Focus On: Major Gifts: Take A Lesson from the Old School
Does she ever give to bricks-and-mortar campaigns or only to endowments or programs? Does she appreciate recognition in her own name, or has she given in memory of her parents? Does she like to be seen as a leader, or should you have other gifts in place before you approach her?
Why you did those papers
Teachers know that research projects help students develop a knack for exploring a subject more thoroughly. Digging into a subject beyond commonly held assumptions provides historical perspective and sometimes fresh information. But you have to go to the right sources.
In the case of a capital campaign, the critical information you will need before ever approaching a single prospect for a major gift can be found by going to the source with the help of a planning and feasibility study.
For example, the CEO of a large nonprofit was about to launch a campaign for a high-profile capital project that seemed to have strong support from its constituency. In fact, several board members had signaled their openness to considering a major gift. He was surprised when it was recommended he do a feasibility study. “I know my donors,” he said.
Perhaps. But the value of a feasibility study is that it affords donors the opportunity to speak to a third party about their willingness to support a particular project.
It’s amazing how quickly individuals will open up and reveal themselves and their opinions during an interview. Indeed, donors, board members and volunteers often welcome the opportunity to vent, in a confidential interview, on issues where they feel their concerns have gone unheeded. The organization should consider this a golden opportunity to address internal weaknesses or practices that might have deterred donors.
In one recent instance, a donor specified three reasons why he would not make a gift to his alma mater. Once those items were addressed, he made a million-dollar contribution.