Soliciting Major Gifts: It's More Than Direct Marketing on Steroids
Before you ever approach your prospects, develop a plan of action. Know what their passions are. Know what they like and what kind of attention they respond to most positively.
Some people like attending black-tie dinners. Others want you to come and visit them personally. Others want to feel they have access to the inner circle of your organization.
They may want to be noticed and appreciated by your president or board members. Or they may want to be asked for input and advice.
Yes, it takes time. And often it takes investment. But it's usually money well spent. I have a friend who once took an important donor on a safari to Africa. It wasn't cheap. But because my friend knew her prospect and had cultivated a strong relationship, the ROI was more than worth the effort.
One more thing: The time and attention you spend on major-donor prospects cannot be faked. People know when they're getting the canned message and when you're being real.
Donors who feel like they're being given the hard sell, or even the soft sell, will feel hurt and resentful. And they won't stick around for it. In fundraising, as in medicine, always follow the primary injunction of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.