Time is running out if you want to raise major gifts for your organization in time for year-end.
My friend, colleague and mentor, Gail Perry, has put together a panel of the best-of-the-best experts in the field of fundraising to help you raise more money by year-end this year.
I was honored to be included in the line-up and my topic, of course, is how to include major gifts in your year-end fundraising campaign.
This post will give you a sneak peak at the five steps I’ll share with the participants about how to make sure you get major gifts by year-end.
If you’re a veteran of the Major Gifts Challenge, some of this will be a repeat from what we’ve already covered, but I always appreciate a good refresher, so I hope you will too.
Before You Begin…
First, it’s important to understand that major gifts have an important role to play in your annual fund campaign (and therefore in year-end fundraising) and are not just a part of capital campaigns.
Second, you need to determine how much a major gift is at your organization. It could be $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 or more. It is unlikely to be six figures, especially if you’re just getting started with major gifts. And, we’re not talking about grants or gifts from corporations or foundations. This is from individual donors.
So whether you’ve been diligently following the Major Gifts Challenge, or have fallen behind, it’s not too late to get some major gifts in time for your annual fund and year-end.
Step 1: Identify your best and most promising prospective donors
At this point, if you’re going to get major gifts by year-end, it’s crucial that you focus like a laser beam on your three to five most promising prospective donors. These are your top donors who have given year-after-year. Hopefully, some board members should be on your short list.
There’s no time for cultivation. In other words, you must already have relationships with these donors. These are people you already know well and are very familiar with your organization.
Step 2: Schedule an ask meeting
There’s no more time to waste… the end of the year is coming. In case you’re unsure, this is important for two key reasons.
- Donors give money at the end of the year for tax reasons.
- Donor give money at the end of the year when they are in the holiday spirit (between Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Pick up the phone (or write an email) and schedule an ask meeting. Major gift giving is never about surprising your donor, so you want to explain the purpose of the meeting — don’t be coy or beat around the bush. Your donor should not be surprised when you ask for a gift.
So, tell your donor why you want to meet. Explain that you would like to discuss how they might support the organization in a more meaningful and impactful way.
All meetings should be scheduled to take place during September and October. So pick up the phone today!
Reminder: A restaurant is not an appropriate spot for a major gift ask. Meet in a quiet, private spot, like the donor’s home or office.
Step 3: Prepare and practice for the meeting
Preparation includes determining Who, What, When, Where and Why. You need to decide who will attend the ask meeting, the exact amount you will ask for, when and where to hold the meeting, and why they should donate.
Role play the sequence of the meeting and most importantly, who will make the ask. Role play until everyone is comfortable. Be prepared for all possible answers by the individual: yes, no, and maybe.
Step 4: Ask for the gift
Attend the meeting and ask for the gift. Ask for a specific amount for a specific purpose.
You will want to ask for between two and ten times the normal amount your donor has given in the past. If you are asking someone who normally gives $1,000 at year-end, then you will want to ask for between two and ten thousand dollars.
Once the ask is made, sit back and be quiet! It’s the prospective donor’s turn to talk. Give them a chance to think and respond, even if the silence is uncomfortable.
Step 5: Say thank you and mean it!
Your donors are not ATM’s and don’t want to be treated as such. Be gracious and grateful, no matter what happens.
Remember, you are speaking to your biggest and best supporters. They deserve to be treated as the VIP’s that they are.
Other Steps For Raising Major Gifts
This post provides a brief overview of each step, but most are covered in other parts of the Major Gifts Challenge. So if any step is unclear, go back and read the full post on that topic.
You can also sign up for the telesummit to get all the details for each step.