Ministries have been entrusted with a calling to serve their communities and God’s Kingdom and challenged to fund that work effectively. Major donors, entrusted with God’s resources, are a crucial strategy for any non-profit development effort.
All donors play an essential role in ministry support, but nearly 90% of donations come from approximately 10% of donors. Thus, creating a major donor plan is crucial to the success and sustainability of your organization.
Do you have a major donor plan? If so, does it include all the key components? Here are a few tips to get started or to evaluate your current efforts.
Identify potential major givers.
Determining who believes in your mission and who has the capacity to give is a crucial first step. You’ve heard me say before that ministry development is the connection point of God’s work to His resources. Begin your major donor efforts by looking for those with the capacity to give and evaluate their alignment with your mission.
A good starting point is to leverage your leadership team and board members. You board may be well connected to individuals who are willing and capable of becoming a major donor. These individuals may include business owners, entrepreneurs, real estate developers, corporate executives, as well as many others. Generous people and potential major donors are all around us.
Understand their needs
Once you’ve decided who your potential major givers are, learn about them. Get to know their story. What causes do they care about it? If they’ve already given to your cause, why do they give? Listen well. This will set the stage for a conversation that will speak to their interests and how they relate to your needs.
Provide a personalized approach
Cultivating major donors is a relational investment. Face to face meetings are preferred to phone calls, emails, or letters. In-person meetings show you care and are willing to invest in relationships. This helps you understand what programs a potential giver may align with best and gain insight into what they care about most. Creating a communication strategy that extends past the initial gift will continue to earn their trust and loyalty in the future.
Create a clear call to action
Don’t forget the ask. Often if an individual is willing to meet, they are prepared to take the next step of giving, but only when there is a clear call to action. When you create a call to action, be very clear where the gift is going. For example, you can say, “Would you being willing to give a gift of X amount of dollars to help us with _____?” You can fill in the blank with the project your organization’s needs.
Give a detailed follow-up.
Plan how you will personally thank your donor after the gift is received. Once a donor has given an initial gift, follow up by sharing the impact of their contribution. This personalized approach will prove to encourage a long-standing relationship that benefits you and your major donors.
Cultivating major donors is a significant endeavor. Remember this is a process; don’t get discouraged. Stay in contact with prospective donors. Perhaps this isn’t the right time for them, but a year later maybe. Remember, this is about relationships, and those take time to build, foster and grow.