What To Do When Your Major Gift Fundraising ISN’T Working

What To Do When Your Major Gift Fundrasing Isn't Working?

It’s that time of year – everyone is focusing on meeting their major gift goals. 

After all, it’s a volatile environment for fundraising right now, and the outlook is cloudy. No one knows what we can expect for year-end gifts. 

You might be worried about meeting your major gift goal this year, too. Our clients and friends are all asking us what to do. 

So today, Kathryn Gamble is sharing our advice. And, best of all, this approach is working for every single one of our clients. 

Here’s our simple four-step approach to help meet your major gift goal by year-end. 

Keep Your Donors Close and Know What’s On Their Minds

You have to keep your donors close, so you know what they are thinking about and how they feel.  We find that so many nonprofit leaders don’t know their important funders very well, and it’s a serious mistake.

Just consider – how well do you really know your top donors? 

Here’s why this is so important: to be truly successful, you have to understand what these key donors are thinking. For example, do you know what bothers your top donor prospects? Do you know how they feel about the economic environment? 

Just because there’s some uncertainty in the environment – doesn’t mean this is a reason for you to hold back. Is the uncertainty bugging them? Maybe yes, and maybe no.

It might be bugging them in a way that makes them feel even MORE generous. They may just want to ensure that their favorite charity keeps doing its great work. 

Why not try a Listening Tour of some of your major supporters? We’re willing to bet that you could easily secure an appointment if you told your donor that you wanted to visit in order to ask them questions and hear their opinions.

 Above all, don’t hold yourself back. If you want to reach and exceed your major gift goal, then don’t neglect your important donor relationships! 

Also, be sure to join us for our open webinar next week: Five Keys to Unlock Major Gift Success in 2023. We’ll be diving deeper into these ideas to help you max out your fundraising – even in uncertain times!

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Identify Your True Major Gift Prospects: Don’t Throw Jello at the Wall 

Given this time of year, let’s create a precise plan for year-end. You need a structured, smart process to make the best use of time between now and December 31st. 

What you really want is a plan that saves your team time while focusing on the best prospects. 

So, to get organized and craft a plan, we always start with this first question – who are your best prospects? 

It’s so important to identify which lovely donors you will be focusing on if you want to reach your major gift goal. You can’t just throw Jello at the wall and approach this process willy-nilly.

Here’s the plan that we recommend:

First, create a short, culled, targeted prospect list. 

Run your reports, and look closely at the pool of major donors who are most likely to give during your time frame. 

This is not such an easy task. It takes time and thought. To be thorough, you’ll need to carefully consider your entire prospect and donor base – because there may be some wonderful sleepers in your donor base.  

Can you identify, among your current major donors, those who can make a major gift to your organization of above $10k? (Or above $50k if you are a large institution.) 

This list may include some donors who have made a sizable gift in the past, and perhaps some mid-level donors who have the capacity to move up and give more. 

Now that you have a list of likely donor prospects, then evaluate your relationship. 

Our favorite relationship metric is Hot, Warm, and Cold. 

For example, if you have a Hot or Warm relationship with a donor, you can ask them if they’d like to know your newest priorities, or if they’d like to consider helping more extensively. 

On the other hand, if you have a Cool or Cold relationship, then it’s time to make discovery calls so you can reinvigorate the relationship. 

If you’ve been keeping your donors close, you already have a warm or hot relationship with them. Then, you can go to them any time for a confidential conversation – that might lead to another gift that will help you reach your major gift goal. You never know! 

In our open webinar next week, we’ll share more strategies for Direct Conversations with donors that help you discover whether they are likely donors or not. Be sure to register now – it’s Tuesday the 15th at 2pm Eastern.

Use Your Time Wisely: Fish in the Right Pond 

Guess what’s the real key to being precisely organized in your major gift work? It’s using your time wisely. 

Remember you only have but so much time, especially now that the clock is ticking toward year-end. Your time is clearly the most finite resource available to you. 

How can you use your time most wisely? By focusing ONLY on the right people.

If you follow the approach that we’ve sketched out above, you will develop a small donor segment that will serve as your working prospect list. 

The secret of using your time wisely, and making the most of the minutes and hours you have, is focusing on those wonderful people you’ve identified as most likely to give in your time frame. 

You’ll be more successful because your time will be better spent. You are fishing in the right pool, so to speak. 

If you do a thoughtful analysis, you can easily come up with a solid list of around 20-30 prospects who just might be the donors to take you over goal this year-end. 

By investing your time in reviewing your donor lists, you’ll be able to save time on the other side, because you are calling on the right people, not the wrong ones.

Adjust Your Attitude: You Are Not an Imposition

Finally, let’s remember our attitudes. We can’t let our “small” or defeatist thinking weigh us down. 

Remember, donors, are donors because they want to be donors.  You have supporters who are wildly passionate about your work. They want to help and help some more. They are your people. 

Above all, don’t impose your own thinking on them. You are NOT an imposition! 

It’s a new thing, this imposition business.  When we mention it and use that word, people know exactly what you’re talking about.

We gave a talk last week at the NC Center for Nonprofits Conference, and we asked how many people feel like they’re imposing on their donors. There were many hands raised in the audience in response – which means that this idea is far too prevalent.

Bottom line: If you want to meet your major gift goal, try these strategies.

Fish in the right pond, don’t throw jello at the wall, know what your donors are thinking, and keep your attitude positive!

Don’t forget to join our open webinar next week: Five Keys to Unlock Major Gift Success in 2023!

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies.  If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.