April 13, 2021
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Major donors thrive on their ability to fuel the causes they care about in a very substantial way. Even in a year when overall giving growth declined, revenue from major gifts increased.
Adapting your major giving strategy to succeed in the next normal should top the list of every nonprofit. That’s why DonorPerfect teamed up with DonorSearch to answer these critical questions in How to Discover Major Donors in Your Database Today, a free guide designed to equip fundraisers with helpful tech and tips for major giving in an ever-shifting world.
Identifying a major donor is only the beginning. Once you know the “who,” it’s important to determine the “how.” How will you solicit your new major donor? How will you communicate your organization’s need in a way that resonates with their goals as philanthropists?
We surveyed hundreds of fundraisers to find out what they’re doing to develop major donor relationships, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they recommend:
When fundraising events had to be canceled, fundraisers sent an appeal to major donors asking for emergency funds that would support their mission throughout the pandemic. While COVID-19 relief funds debuted last spring, nonprofits continue to communicate their needs to major donors as operational costs and projects arise throughout the year.
Major donors love knowing that their money is being used to raise more money. Over the past year, fundraisers identified prospects to contribute to a match pool. Match pools can be used in a number of different ways, including:
Unless they prefer to remain anonymous, be sure to highlight your major donor matcher throughout your campaign.
A multichannel communication strategy designed for major donor cultivation (ex. calls, videos, emails, print media, social media, and video meetings) has been key to the success of many nonprofit organizations. While in-person events are a no-go for the most part, fundraisers have seen strong participation in virtual meetings and events. One nonprofit swapped major donor meetings with porch-dropped gifts of appreciation for their loyal funders.
In addition to individual outreach, consider forming shared-interest groups among donors to discuss specific projects or aspects of your mission via quarterly Zoom meetings.
Your major donor screening equips you to determine their interest in regards to projects they’ll want to invest in and updates they’ll want to hear. Tailor timely updates to the work and outcomes that resonate most with them and demonstrate how each step of progress is a direct result of their generosity.
Nonprofit organizations have appointed a lean “major gifts staff” or committee to research and solicit major donors from assigned portfolios. Each portfolio is intended to achieve annual team and individual fundraising goals. Organizations that didn’t have dedicated major gifts officers divvied up the work, identifying major donors and matching them with an appropriate staff member (ex. CEO, executive director, development director, etc.) or board member who is tasked with cultivating the relationship.
Some fundraisers have founded a major giving society to recognize and reward major donors, while encouraging them to give again in the future. Here are three main benefits to forming a giving society:
The principle behind forming a major giving society is much like the principle behind starting a monthly giving program. You’re taking donors on a direct path from one-time donors to lifetime donors!
Sometimes home base is the best place to start, which is why some nonprofits partnered with businesses in their community to gain sponsorships for projects or fundraisers that could also be beneficial to local business owners.
Fundraisers are discovering that much of what they did in the past to connect with major donors can take place online:
Since special mentions at events are no longer an option, nonprofits have been spotlighting major donors on a digital stage with thank-yous, acknowledgements, blog posts, and interviews featuring major donors on their website, social media channels, and in their newsletters, both online and direct mail.
With the challenge of balancing an increased need for both services and funding, many nonprofits are incorporating donor-advised funds into their fundraising strategy. One fundraiser recommended looking for donor-advised funds that have recently been allocated for COVID-19 relief and applying as soon as possible.
The pandemic has had far-reaching effects, devastating the nonprofit sector and the economy as well as families and individuals. From business setbacks to family or personal illness, your major donors may be going through a crisis of their own. Lots of organizations are checking in on their donors, calling just to see how they are. It’s a small gesture but an incredibly meaningful one.
Why make major donors wait to know the status of the projects they’re funding? Nonprofits are getting creative with impact updates, inviting major donors to tune into the progress they make possible whenever they like via social media posts with daily snapshots of their work and live streams of their projects that invite comments and other types of engagement.
Learn how to find major donors in your network and establish relationships that will further your mission now and in the future. Complete the form below, and we’ll send you a guide that’s packed with the best practices and smart tech recs you need to make it happen.