Net Gain: ‘Major’ in Online Relationships
A nonprofit organization’s Web site might not be the point of transaction for six-figure
donations, but it can serve as a powerful tool in cultivating major gifts.
An effective Web strategy can help build relationships with major donors by identifying prospects, capturing information and providing a high-touch, 24/7 communication channel. It offers a great way to have more frequent, less invasive (and less expensive) interactions that empower donors by putting them in the driver’s seat. The key is to align your organization’s Internet strategy with your offline major-
giving program and the specific needs of your major-donor prospects.
Major gifts and major donors
Major gifts, or leadership gifts, generally are made to support new initiatives or address a significant need within an organization. They often are the most critical gifts a nonprofit receives, but they also are the most difficult, expensive and time-consuming to obtain. To effectively cultivate a major donor, it’s important to keep some basic characteristics in mind.
* Make gifts that exceed a pre-defined amount (anywhere from $100 to well over a million);
* Usually have been affiliated with an organization for a long period of time;
* Allocate their resources — both time and money — selectively;
* Want to have an impact on your mission;
* View their support as a long-term partnership;
Expect to be treated as special and unique.
In short, major donors have different needs and expectations from regular donors and typical Web visitors. Meeting these needs is key.
Begin with a strategy
The first step to strengthening major-donor relationships through the use of the Internet is to determine what your prospects and donors want and overlay this with what you want to accomplish. The basic principles of the traditional fundraising pyramid still apply online.
Following is an example of the major-donor life cycle as applied online by a museum: