Who can forget that Valentine’s Day is this month?

  • What an opportune time to show your donors some love. Send your donors valentines to show them your love (if you want to plan further in advance, consider doing something like this for Mother’s or Father’s Day). For some great ideas, check out my Pinterest boards: (1) Zee Happy Valentine’s Day, and (2) Gratitude: Nonprofits Say Thanks.
  • You may also wish to consider a Valentine’s Day themed fundraising campaign. (1) Consider asking folks to send a valentine in honor of a loved one — something that shows the true meaning of love. (2) Partner with a local bakery or chocolatier to offer discounts to everyone who makes a Valentine’s Day donation.  (3) Ask a retailer (a florist?) to give a % of every sale on Valentine’s Day to your organization.

The spring is a great time to focus on major donor cultivation and stewardship.

Spring is right around the corner! If you don’t have a major donor team, now is the time to create one.  Major gifts are a team effort. Here are a few ideas to help you move forward with your major donor relationship-building strategies:

  • Develop a plan to strengthen individual connections with your best donors and prospects. Make two lists. One of your top (25) donors; one of your top (10) major donor prospects. The first is to assure you retain and upgrade the key supporters you already have. The second is to keep feeding your pipeline and grow your important major donor cadre. You’ll want to roll this plan out during the next eight months in order to prepare to kick into solicitation gear during the last three months of the calendar year (this is true even if you operate on a fiscal year; most donors think on a calendar year basis, and you’ve got to be donor-centered if you want to reap the benefits of their greatest generosity).
  • Recommit to getting out of the office. If you don’t meet your donor prospects face to face you won’t get very far. Fundraising is a contact sport.
  • Set a firm goal for how many major donor visits you’ll accomplish each month. You’ll accomplish some personally; others will be done by your executive director, other staff, board members and other volunteers. Your job is to make assignments, hold everyone’s feet to the fire, and help them understand this is a team effort. Remember, not every visit is a solicitation. Mix it up, as appropriate, with:

— Thank you visits: “I just want to thank you personally, and drop something by.” (This is a good time to bring a little something personal; I bake cookies, but you can bring jam, coffee, tea, a plant, a card signed by staff or people you help… something that is inexpensive but shows thoughtful appreciation).

— Advice visits: “I want your feedback, opinion, thoughts…”

— Update visits: “I’d love to share our latest project…”

— “I’d love to hear your story” visits (great if you’d like to showcase them in a newsletter or as part of a blog post)

—  Let your friends be our friends visits: “Can you help us with some strategies to find more folks like you to support our work?”

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