Conference Roundup: Major-Gift Fundraising for Anyone
Ginn also urges organizations to host at least one major-donor event each year. And the donors should know that the celebration is specifically for them.
“Let them know it’s not an ask but a thank-you party,” he said, also advising organizations to never underestimate the power of the personal touch and to connect with major donors by sending them copies of interesting publications with a personal note.
“Remember, your organization is building a relationship with these folks,” he said.
One of the most important strategies, however, is to make every organization staff member a part of the effort. Development staff should invite non-development colleagues to major-gift solicitations, for example.
“Share the fun and responsibility,” Ginn said. “Have brown-bag lunches so development can teach (other staff members) about fundraising. Make sure you coach your colleagues before a visit or a call.”
Fundraisers also should circulate a list of their top donors with senior staff members and the receptionist, Ginn said, explaining, “The names of your highest donors should be familiar to your whole team. Imagine the impact if your donors got thanked by more than one person.”
He said every employee on staff should be able to do three things:
1. relay two or three facts about your organization;
2. relay two or three meaningful stories; and
3. link funding to what they do.
To make major-gifts strategies work, Ginn said, organizations must align staff through training and creating a culture where major-gifts development is important, as well as align budget priorities and fundraising goals to include major gifts.
“Major gifts are what you define them to be, and they can be a part of every successful fundraising program,” Ginn said.
Finally, he offered these quick dos and don’ts for closing a major-gift solicitation.
* summarize the conversation highlights and points of agreement;
* assume the commitment and then convince the prospect that he/she is making the right decision;
* time your close so that it is natural;
* tailor each close to a specific opportunity;
* close at the prospect’s pace, but avoid getting caught up by any potential stalling tactics;
* seek areas of agreement to launch the close;
* underscore emotions, as they are very important; and
* leave on an optimistic note.