Call a Major Who Hasn’t Given Yet (and here’s what to say)

Call a major.

Here’s another quick tip for you as the year-end approaches…

Call a major donor who hasn’t given a gift yet.

Here’s what to do (this will be easy for some nonprofits, hard for others):

  1. Make sure you know exactly who your major donors are.
  2. Run a report to see which of them haven’t given in the second half of this year.
  3. Call each Major who hasn’t given recently, or who you think could give another gift this year.

Here’s What to Say

Our approach is that this call is a reminder – a service to the donor – not a direct Ask.

Take as much of the following script as is helpful to you and the context of each donor.

“I’m calling because I know how much you love helping [beneficiaries/cause], and I noticed that we hadn’t received a gift from you yet, here at the end of the year. You and your generosity have been extraordinary. So I wanted to call to see if there’s anything you need from me, or [your organization name], to help you make a gift or decide to make one.”

Then stop talking. Be comfortable with tension (if there is any). Let the donor speak next and take the conversation from there.

Pro major gift fundraisers will also be prepared with three things:

  1. How much you’d like the donor to give
  2. What her gift will do / the outcomes her gift will create
  3. Reasons her gift is needed before the end of the year

But even if you don’t have those things, make the call. Making the call is the most important element.

If your call goes to voicemail, leave the message on voicemail.

And if you can’t make the call, send an email. But only if you can’t call.

It Won’t Work for Every Major Donor –

Because nothing works for everyone.

But for some majors who have been busy, or traveling, or were on the way to sending you a gift but put down your letter and forgot – you’ll be providing them a great service. You’ll be helping them give a gift that they would love to make!

And you’ll be raising more money!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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