Major Gift Fundraising is Like Dating – 4 Steps to Success

By Kathie Kramer Ryan – Arroyo Fundraising

Would you ask someone to marry you on your first date? Chances are, no way! It’s just as unlikely that you—as a development professional—would ask a prospect to make a major gift to your organization during your first meeting.

If you are planning or implementing a major gifts program, it’s a great time to review these 4 Steps to Fundraising Success.

Step #1: Identify

First, you’ll want to identify prospects who have the potential to become donors to your organization. Prospects may include friends and colleagues of your current donors, board members, committee members and other stakeholders. Consider former board members, event attendees and (if applicable) site-visit participants.

If you work for a school, consider your students’ families, or your alumni. If your organization is a hospital, consider your patients’ families or former patients.

Step #2: Cultivate

You want to cultivate interest in your organization and its mission while building relationships with individual prospects. In our dating/marriage proposal analogy, Cultivation is the dating phase. Cultivation – or relationship-building – occurs anytime you “touch” or communicate with a prospect.

The most effective relationship-building consists of touches that are tailored to your prospect’s interests.

Step #3: Solicit

Next you will solicit a gift. While there are no set rules about how long Cultivation should last before Solicitation begins, you’ll generally spend more time cultivating for a larger ask and less time for a smaller ask.

There are many ways to ask for support, including by email, letter, phone call, or a face-to-face meeting. As a general rule, the larger the gift you are asking for, the more personal your approach should be. In other words, when you ask for a major gift, do it in person. Just like asking someone to marry you!

Step #4: Steward

Finally, steward your donors. Stewardship is thanking your donors and showing them the impact of their gifts, and it’s critical to ensuring this first gift is not the last gift. Effective Stewardship continues to build the relationship between your donor and your organization.

Be sure to join us for our next free webinar “ 7 Steps for Getting Started in Major Gifts (Even in Small Shops).” See you then!

About the Author

Kathie Kramer Ryan, founder of Arroyo Fundraising, has excelled in development and leadership positions in the nonprofit sector for 17 years. Kathie raised over $40 million as a frontline fundraiser and has helped raise millions more as a fundraising coach and consultant. A national expert on donor cultivation and major gift fundraising, Kathie serves thousands of nonprofit professionals annually as a fundraising blogger, speaker and trainer.

The 7 fundamentals of Monthly Giving

imagesMQ90Z0LKA few years ago, when I first started teaching webinars at Charity How To, Monthly giving was still in its infancy. It used to be something for the few and big organizations.

Not anymore! Every organization can and should organize a monthly giving program in very short order. With the right tools (and you may very well already have them in-house), you can get started in no time.

You may know I’m somewhat of a monthly donor ‘groupie’.  I’ve been managing monthly donor programs for decades and I’ve seen the power and ongoing revenue it provides, especially in times of crisis.  In some cases, it’s kept organizations afloat because even if they could not send appeals to ask for money, the monthly donations kept coming in.

So why is monthly giving important?

Let’s look at some fundamentals of monthly giving you must realize before you start, that may be different from what you’ve seen with other types of donors.

  1. Understand how monthly donors are different. They are not your big check writers. Monthly giving allows even small donors to invest in your organization in a way that’s easy, comfortable and affordable for them , while generating lots of money for your organization. And, an important “side effect” your donor retention rate will increase.
  2. You can start your program with minimal resources. Look at your online donation system and add monthly giving to your one-time donation pages and create a separate monthly donation page.
  3. Do create a monthly donor recognition plan.  And make sure you organize your recognition pieces in advance, before you start marketing. I work with many small and mid-size organizations and find that early promotion – before the process was completely organized – will cause delays and problems down the road. If you take a few extra minutes now to map out what you’ll offer these new monthly donors, it will benefit you and them in the long run.
  4. Define your ask amounts at the low end of the spectrum and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Don’t be too greedy.  Start asking for the lowest amount you can get away with, but always offer a number of different options. I recommend 4 and Other $. The donors will determine what they can afford. If you start too high, you’ll scare them off and they feel they cannot contribute. Ask low, get higher response.
  5. Marketing your program nowadays is very doable by asking via email and social media. You’ve done all of the hard work already and set up the systems and recognition. .Now it’s a matter of asking.
  6. Always annualize the value of your monthly donors when you present the results of your activities to others. I cannot stress this enough. If you see that the current average gift of a monthly donor is some $24 a month, that’s $288 a year!All of a sudden people start taking notice. Until you annualize, bosses, boards and colleagues will not understand the power of monthly giving.
  1. Do plan for growth. You’re asking the donors to commit to you long-term so you should commit to this program long-term as well. Growing a monthly donor program takes time, so you must build in as many ask opportunities as you possibly can!  I’ve seen tremendous success especially with those organizations who were so committed to it that they looked at absolutely every opportunity to ask donors to join their monthly giving program. And it is working! Some now see 50 to 60% of their revenue from monthly donors. It creates the sustainable revenue they need. So, look at your communication plan for the year and build in as many monthly giving appeals as you can and you WILL grow.

And if you’d like to find out more, check out the various monthly giving webinars at Charity How To today and go to www.adirectsolution.com for resources about monthly giving.

 

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