Major Donors--Handle With Care
"It can be a logistical nightmare to try to maintain all these relationships with one person," Klein explains. "I would say the best practice is not about maintaining relationships with these donors but about creating a team of people who maintain those relationships so that it's not 'my relationship with 200 donors' but 'my relationship with 10 or 12 volunteer board members who then have a relationship with the 200 donors.'"
But while communicating with donors is important, Klein notes that some major-gifts donors want to send a big gift to an organization but don't want to be bothered.
"They want to just say, 'Here's the money, do your work, (and) leave me alone,'" Klein says. She advises nonprofits to take their cue from the donor when it comes to communicating with them.
"Bigger donors … especially people that have a lot of money and give away a lot of money, they're fairly sophisticated about giving, and they often are very good about saying, 'This is how often I want to hear from you or this is what I most like.' Some need a lot of attention; some prefer no attention," Klein adds.
Still, Klein says she sees a lot of organizations lose opportunities for donations because they don't take the time to be gracious to their donors, who in turn give to organizations that make them feel appreciated. The common expectation of a donor who gives a $2,000 gift might be that a nonprofit could up the ask to $4,000 the following year. But if the ask is your only point of contact, that's a fast way to lose donors, Klein says.
"If they feel like you only come to see [them] when you want more money, and you always want more money, that's a formula for disaster. It's a relationship, sort of like a friend. You see a friend a few times, (and) then maybe one time you ask if you can borrow their car. But if every single time you saw your friend all you wanted to ask was when can you borrow their car, pretty soon that person would begin to think, 'I don't see a friendship here,'" she adds.