Updated: Feb 13
Wouldn't you love to spend minutes raising millions of dollars from major donors instead of whittling away your days messing with the little details of those small donor programs?
Is your board (or boss) asking you why you don't have larger donations coming in regularly?
If you're beating your head on the desk with frustration, then let's do something about it!
The best fundraisers in the world carve out time to work on the largest, most promising donors. If you're not there yet, don't worry. You can do it. It's not hard, but it does take a plan. If you look at how you spend your time, you might find that you're wasting hours raising minimal amounts of dollars. Sure you have deadline and events coming up that require your attention.
In my experience, it has taken less time to secure a major donation than it has to raise the same amount of money from an annual fund campaign. It's all about your approach and plan. Let's make this so simple that even if you're new to fundraising you can do it. Here's the way to approach it...
Identify the donor (see that was simple).
Run a wealth screening to determine the donor's capacity and potential connection to your cause. Not sure where to start with that? Check out Wealth Engine and get started with this invaluable tool. Be sure to say that I referred you.
Conduct a Google search to gather even more information about the potential donor.
Identify what you have to offer that donor that puts her philanthropy first.
Make the connection and make the ask (more on that later).
Close the gift (and then don't forget donor recognition and stewardship).
You don't need to spend time with the entire development team discussing donor strategies 1, 2, or 3. You don't need to overanalyze the ask. How do I know this? Because I've helped my clients streamline their major gift ask strategies using this method and it works. The biggest challenge in this quick, simple process is making the connection and the ask. Most groups have no problem identifying a major donor. But when it comes to making that connection and the ask the staff often stumble. They are afraid to reach out. They default to the board and hope the board members will make the connection. They spend too much time talking about the charity and never get to the ask.
Don't complicate your life. Find the easiest route to the connection and make the ask. It doesn't take ten meetings and three phone calls to get to the point. Sometimes, it doesn't even take a meeting. You can do it in writing or via email.
Most major gifts take less time to secure than others. It takes around 255 minutes (yes, about 4-5 hours) to get through this process when it's all said and done. When I went through this with my client, we closed on a $1.5 million gift in record time. Now compare that to the amount of time it takes to raise say $250,000 from a special event. That usually adds up to around 28,880 minutes (yes, about 480 hours). Now, don't get me wrong, we need to have special events. They are the pipeline to all types of donors. However, if you're feeling frustrated with your major gift efforts, please stop complicating it. Streamline the process, prioritize your work, and think of it in minutes, not months.