Major Donor Fundraising: Major Donors are People, Too!

Major Donor Fundraising

Some major donors to your organization desire a genuine relationship with you and the people fulfilling your organization’s mission. Major donors are people too! They have feelings and emotions that will impact their future decisions. Knowing this, I’d encourage you to do the following with your major donors:

  • Find out how each major donor wants to be connected with, then connect with each donor the way they want to be connected with. Some will want a lot, some will want only a little.
  • Donors want to help! This means you must ask them for a donation and when doing so, I’d encourage you to ask for more money than you think you can receive. It is the donor’s job to downgrade their gift, not yours!
    • I say this because I see far too many major gifts people who reduce the amount they ask for so that they can get a “win.” In my experience, you’ll raise more money in the long run – and have better donor relationships — if you ask for more and then meet the donor where they are at.  Many donors are honored that you asked them for more and that you shared the real need with them!
  • The biggest mistake I see in major donor fundraising is the lack of clarity around why you want to meet or talk with the donor. This is an easy problem to fix!  Tell each donor exactly why you want to meet with them.  For example, if you want to meet with them to Report back on what their gift has accomplished, tell them that when you ask for the meeting!  If you’d like to meet to Ask them for a donation, tell them there’s a real need and you’d like to ask them to make a donation to meet the need.
  • There will be some majors that don’t want to get to know you, who don’t desire a relationship. The key is to figure out who that is, then honor it.  And don’t assume any donor is one way or the other unless you’ve asked them.

The big takeaway here is to get to know your major donors on an individual basis.  Every person is different, so get to know them and treat each person how they would like to be treated.

Jim Shapiro
Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. He has 20 years experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a $300m nonprofit. He then co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money. Jim is married, serves his community by coaching high school football, and has three children.

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