Top 10 Tips to Catapult Your Major Gift Fundraising

Here’s a special list of my FAVORITE ideas, tips and strategies that I’ve developed over 30 years in fundraising.out of the box

It’s some of my best wisdom.

Some of these ideas are short-cuts. Some are out-of-the-box.

And some are my magic keys to million dollar major donor relationships.

I’m grateful to Craige Gravestein in Australia this list of his Top 10 Ideas from the workshops I did in Australia this month. His firm Xponential Philanthropy hosted my recent Australia speaking tour.

I hope this Top 10 List helps you too!

1. Here’s a terrific open-ended question to ask major gift prospects and donors:

I always like to “ground” the donor in their own personal passion for our cause.

This is always the first thing that I do in an important conversation.

Ask them:

Why do you care about our organization?

You’ll probably discover the key to their heart – and to their next gift.

2. How to stop your CEO talking TOO much at the donors?

Here’s how you coach your CEO:

Tell him/her to talk only a minute or two, then ask the donor:

 “What are your impressions?

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This helps you listen your way to a major gift – and gives your CEO great feedback.

Here’s how to train your CEO to listen as much as he or she is talking!

3. Need to lay the groundwork for a future capital campaign?

Hold a party to honor your organization’s founders!

Gotta train your CEO to LISTEN to -- not talk AT your donor!

Gotta train your CEO to LISTEN to — not talk AT your donor!

Your founders are probably major donor prospects for the upcoming campaign.

And they probably have felt a bit neglected lately.

It shines a light on your organization’s happy past.

And it reconnects potential major donors to your cause.

4. How to find out if your idea will catch your donor’s imagination and motivation:

Try this statement:

We had always dreamed that we would be able to:

It’s ok to speculate hypothetically.

You can throw out a powerful vision of WHAT COULD BE.

This is a place of power and possibility that really can engage your donor and her energy.

5. How often you should be in front of your major gift donors?

You really want to develop a deep, sincere relationship with the major donor BEFORE you ask.

So you want to be sure the donor feels deeply interested and connected to your cause, right?

If you move to a solicitation too quickly, then the donor feels like it’s an affront and you’ve seriously lost out.

Here’s a motto I learned at Duke University when I first started as a fundraiser:

The more times you are in front of the donor BEFORE asking, then the bigger their ultimate gift.

6. What to do when your major gift prospect says: “I like your nonprofit, but you are not my priority.”

This is a challenge many of us fundraisers have heard!

But it IS possible to shift your donors’ interests.

Try asking:

What would it take for our organization to become one of your priorities?

You’d be surprised – your donor will probably tell you exactly what he or she wants in order to become a bigger supporter.

7. Need easy ways to involve board members in fundraising?

Many board members shy away from fundraising because are nervous and afraid of “hitting up” people.

Your donors like these ladies would love to get thank you phone calls from board members!

Your donors like these wealthy ladies would love to get thank you phone calls from board members!

So start them out the easy way – by thanking donors.

When board members thank donors, studies show that the donors future gifts go UP.

So here’s a perfect way for board members to “raise money” by just by thanking donors!

8. CEO and program managers too busy to communicate with major gift donors?

Record a video of someone your organization has helped saying “thank you.”

Take the video with you to show the donor.

I’m seeing some very innovative uses of VIDEO to bring a nonprofit’s mission alive in front of a donor.

Using tablets is becoming more familiar to donors and allows for terrific informal interaction.

9. Need to bring major gift donors closer?

What about an Insiders’ “behind the scenes tour?”

I think you need a tour that will bring someone to tears three times in an hour. :)

I developed a bang-up tour for every single capital campaign I’ve ever counseled.

Tours need to be planned but shouldn’t feel stage-managed.

10: When in doubt, throw a party!

After all these years in fundraising. I have finally landed on my #1 Motto!

And I don’t mean a fundraising event either.

I think you should make everything fun. If you are having fun then you ATTRACT people to your cause.

They want to hang with you. They want to attend your events,  be your friends, and help you out.

Here’s Craige Gravestein’s slide share presentation of these top 10 tips!

How do you like them? Let me know!