Know Your Donor. Know Your Donor. Know Your Donor.
'I'm gonna just write up a proposal and get it out there to my donors," the determined major-gifts officer said. And that's how he defined an important step in his success in raising major-gift money.
As I've looked at this whole area of proposal writing for major donors I find that a great deal of emphasis, by many authors, is placed on the actual writing of the case, proposal or whatever you want to call it. Most of the material starts with "create a need statement" or "create a theme," or with some instruction on how to begin to draft some element of the actual proposal.
This is all good, but it starts in the wrong place. Why? Because it doesn't start with the most important part of the whole equation — the donor.
Step 1: Know your donor
The first step in creating an effective proposal for a donor is to know your donor. Seems obvious, doesn't it? Still, I find many major-gifts officers who actually start "writing it up" before they interact with the target audience — their donors.
This is symptomatic of a deeply held belief about donors that keeps them in a secondary position in the value hierarchy of all the people in the nonprofit. The donor is simply a source of cash. It is a program, and what WE do that is actually more important! Big mistake and the wrong path to take.
Knowing the donor is the first place a major-gifts officer should start in creating a proposal. There are two key questions to answer before you start writing:
- Who is this person?
- What does he or she want and need in this relationship?
Here, then, are some tips on how you can know your donor better.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.