Upgrading Year-End Donors to a Higher Gift Level


Upgrading year-end donors can be a challenge – and an opportunity.

What to do with your very important major and mid-level donors during your year-end campaign?

Today we have a guest post from the very smart Rachel Muir, CFRE – sharing her best tips on upgrading year-end donors.

With most organizations getting anywhere from 25 – 50% of their revenue at end of year there’s a lot at stake!

Here’s Rachel’s Terrific Post:

Upgrading Year-End Donors to a Higher Gift Level

by Rachel Muir

Major gift income could have the single biggest impact on the fundraising bottom line for your year-end.

In the rush to plan your end of year strategy are you giving major gifts the attention it needs?

Here are 4 tips to make the most of major gift (and mid-level) fundraising at end of year.

  • Crunch Your Data

Do you know who your best major gift prospects are?

Pull a list of to find your largest and most loyal donors.

  • Prioritize Your Portfolio

Which prospects are most likely to say yes to a personal ask?

  • Pick up the Phone

Ah, the phone.

That highly affordable completely underutilized part of your fundraising program that’s sitting in your pocket right now.

Start by calling these donors (not emailing them) to thank them for their past giving. Tell them what their gift accomplished.

Ask if you can visit with them to talk about their year-end support. Here’s a sample script you can steal:

Hi, it’s Becky Smith, from xxxxx.

I want to give you a huge thank you for your gift to us. It’s awesome that you are doing this.

We are so thankful to have you in our family.  (AFFIRMATION OF THE DONOR)

You may remember reading about xxx project that you helped fund.

Thanks to you, xxxx (describe accomplishment) and now here’s the impact of this xxxx (describe impact).


Because each donor situation is different I’ve outlined a few options where you can go on your call.

You can discuss many things – from inviting them to an event, to making a sit-down appointment, to even making an ask on the phone which you might opt to do as part of a strategy for making calls to your midlevel donors.

Option 1: Invite your donor to an event

I want to invite you to come see xxxxxx so you can experience your gift at work.

I want to give you every opportunity to learn how your gifts impact the lives of xxxxxx. (INVITE THEM TO TAKE A TOUR OR ATTEND AN EVENT)

Option 2: Ask your donor for a visit

I want to sit down with you to get your feedback and learn about your giving interests.

I have exciting new opportunities to share. I can come to your office or your home to make it convenient for you.

Would your schedule us to meet Wednesday the 7th or Friday the 11th?

Option 3: Making an ask on the phone (if you are calling midlevel donors).

What we are doing today – is a phone campaign so we can tackle this next important project.

We are asking people to increase their gift by xx amount to create xxxxx impact (or reach xxxxx people).

Most people are giving in this range of $xxx to $xxxx. How much would you like to give?

I love fundraising truth bombs.

And this is my new favorite truth bomb for end of year fundraising: “No ask is ever just a single day affair.

It’s going to take a lot of calls to get through, just like it’s going to take a lot of emails for your online campaign to work.

Upgrading year-end donors is a process that takes time and effort.

  •  Plan the Donor Journey

Once you get the gift, roll out the red carpet to thank your donor.

Put them in a thoughtful communication stream that makes them feel great about their gift, updates them on your work and gets to know what they care about.

This sample stewardship plan can help.

Bottom Line from Gail: Upgrading Year-End Donors

Those higher gift levels are just sitting there.

All you have to do is employ the right strategies: The phone. The personal call or visit. The ask.

It’s not complicated! So give these strategies a try and watch YOUR year-end totals zoom up!

About Rachel Muir CFRE, Fundraising Consultant, Trainer, Speaker

Rachel has worked every side of the Rubik’s cube that is the nonprofit sector. When she was 26 Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit empowering girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. Today she transforms people into confident, successful fundraisers. Learn more about Rachel at www.rachelmuir.com