Each Donor Is a 'Guest of Honor' in Your Fundraising Budget
Consider a few special communications to them each year, inviting them to be part of a unique project that you're not promoting to "the masses." Offer recognition options (i.e., names of all project supporters on a plaque in the room they help you renovate). Use heavy personalization, and talk about how special they are to the organization. Hold a private reception to thank these middle donors. Invite them to participate on a conference call or webinar where your president explains the new project. In short, in whatever you choose to do for this group, show them you care and that they matter to you.
Major donors: Ah, yes, the group we all just can't get enough of. If only we had so many major donors that we didn't have to worry about all this other stuff I keep writing about … But the truth is, many major donors get to that point by reading newsletters, responding to direct mail, clicking on a link in an e-appeal, coming to an annual event, maybe even lapsing and being won back by the sincerity of your organization's effort to reach out to them.
Budget for special treatment — a handwritten note to say "thank you" from time to time. A phone call from your president or board chair to express appreciation. Birthday cards and holiday cards. A tour of a new program site. A VIP reception when you are opening a new exhibit or facility. And yes, a very personal letter with a professional-looking prospectus inviting them to participate on the ground floor of a new project.
Bottom line from this old dog: One size does not fit all in fundraising. Your budget needs to reflect your unique plans for each of these groups of donors, both to hold the fundraising team accountable for all of them and to show where investing more in the future will have the greatest impact (without neglecting acquisition, which ought to be non-negotiable).
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.