MAJOR DONOR FOCUS: Navigate the pandemic and post-election waters with success

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with a number of organizations who are feeling very concerned about their major gift fundraising. 

During what is normally a prosperous giving season, organizations are noticing that substantial gifts from their Major Donors are down significantly. 

Rivers that usually run deep have slowed to a trickle.  While majors are still engaged, and they still desire to help, there is a reluctance to make their usual financial commitment.

Perhaps you’re in a similar position?

There are two factors that are impacting the giving confidence of your Major Donors: the federal election and COVID-19.

Let me address each one separately, and offer a few suggestions for how you can navigate Christmas and Year-End with your Major Donors.

Election 2020

When asked why they couldn’t make their annual gift to the organization, one Major Donor said:

  • “There’s a lot of contention and stress politically, right now.  I still want to support you, but I just want to see how that unfolds.”

Four-years ago, the same thing happened.  Also in 2012.  There’s precedent to show that in an election year, Major Donors may often give less, or later than normal. 

We’re seeing a similar trend this year.  Yet history shows that once the transition of power takes effect, the major gifts you would normally see come in November will now likely arrive in December, or perhaps in the new year. 

The good news is that Majors still want to support your mission!

Coronavirus Restrictions 2.0

Here we go again.

A second-wave of COVID-19 restrictions is impacting many states and counties across the country.  Emotionally this is a difficult time, and this tension permeates the economy.  And understandably, those with personal wealth are being a little more cautious than normal.

Your Majors have business interests, investments, and financial portfolios that depend on a healthy economy.  Indeed, when asked why they can’t commit to their usual year-end gift, one donor said:

  • “I want to wait and see how this new round of restrictions impacts my business.”

Navigating Forward

There is good news.

Your Major Donors haven’t run out of money.  The stock market is strong, and it’s getting stronger on news of coronavirus vaccines and progress with political transitions.

What you can do is stay the course, remain positive, and be in front of your donors more often.  Continue to make phone calls, send emails, notes, and cards.  Surprise and delight them. 

Be patient, stay in touch, and when your Majors are ready to give, they’ll give.

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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