10 Ideas for How to Chat It Up With Major Donors
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How does your organization classify a major donor? If it is on the size of a gift, how was that dollar amount established? Is it time to rethink how you identify a major donor?
Once you identify who your major donors are, you must build relationships with them. I’m the first to tell you to get on the phone and talk to your donors. But, my clients often ask for recommendations on what to say to a major donor when he/she has not made a gift in the past 12 months or how to start to build a relationship if one does not exist.
I recommend the following tips when calling your major donors:
- Most importantly, say “thank you." Be sincere, and make the donor feel appreciated. Thank the donor for her years of giving. State specifically how many years the donor has been supporting your organization.
- Mention that she is one of your most valued partners and a brief statement on what her gifts have allowed you to do.
- Mention any upcoming events in her area in the near future and to keep an eye out for the invitation.
- If the donor is lapsed, or is in risk of lapsing (hasn’t made a gift in 10 months), then state that you look forward to the privilege of hearing from her again and her continued support at this time will be greatly appreciated.
- To engage the donor, ask her for input on a new project, your new website that just launched, etc. Remember, major donors are your most valuable supporters; their input will help you maintain their level of support and engage others like them.
- Be sure to provide the donor with your direct phone number and e-mail address. Donors like to have a personal connection with the organization and know that there is someone they can call if they ever have any questions.
- If the donor has time and indicates an interest to chat, engage her in a conversation. Be sure to at least ask this one important question: “Why do you give to our organization?” Other questions to ask your donors: Is there a particular program or aspect of the organization that interests you the most? Have you ever been to any of our events/facility? Do you like receiving our mail? Is there anything you would like to hear more about? Do you have any questions about our mission or our work?
- Listen to the donor. Take notes on what you learn about the donor, and be sure to enter those notes into your donor database system. This information is useful for further cultivation of the donor.
- Be prepared to respond to the donor’s signals that she is interested in making a large gift right now. Signals include statements like: “I would like to do more for your organization.” “Is there anything I can do to offer more support?” “I would like to make a contribution; how much do you need?”
- Lastly, don’t wait until a gift arrives on your desk before you call your major donors. Start the conversation now!
Lynn Howes is senior marketing strategist StrategicOne, a Convio company.