Creating the Major Gifts Plan—Be Disciplined to Succeed

Major Gifts – Beyond the Solicitation Series – Part 2

David Mersky sqThe annual fund is the foundation of every great development program.  It provides an opportunity to identify, interest, involve, engage and acknowledge generous donors.  A thoughtful approach to creating the major gifts plan, of communication and contact, solicitation and stewardship, deepens relationships and creates life-long donors.

But, we now live in the midst of unprecedented global economic and political uncertainty that has an impact on personal philanthropy. Many donors have anxiety about the future.  That anxiety manifests itself in an inability or unwillingness to undertake charitable commitments to new—at least for the donor—ventures and, in many cases, to eliminate gifts to organizations which have been supported for many years so as to concentrate giving to a few through “high impact philanthropy.”

With proper planning, however, you can retain and, possibly, upgrade your donors. In fact, when you follow systematic procedures, the annual fund program is virtually failsafe. Securing donors is obviously the first step. But then you must acknowledge promptly and effectively, show appreciation regularly and sincerely, and give priority to winning, and re-winning, the donor’s heart and mind to the cause.

The key to your success is to be found in your donor database.

Getting Started: A Step-by-Step Plan

  • Segment your existing donor database and select your best major gift prospects
  • Create a “file” for each
  • Collect easy-to-access research
  • Identify and consult with natural partners—volunteers who can help in the development of the relationship with each prospect
  • Develop strategy and gift objectives for each prospect
  • Plan five to ten moves for each prospect—a series of steps (moves), e.g., emails, letters, newsletters, phone calls, events, one-on-one encounters, for each identified prospect which will “move” prospects to their next (first) gift
  • As a result of what you have learned through each move and follow up call, you will create a plan for a “Campaign of One” with each prospect.
  • Modify the plan—it is not static, but dynamic—as circumstances and new information warrant.

Moves management is about time management.  You increase your chance for success by allocating your time and all the resources at your disposal proportionately among the four types of prospects:

  1. Those ready to make a major gift
  2. Those needing some cultivation but who would consider a major gift in the near future
  3. Those needing extensive cultivation
  4. Those with capability, but little or no reason to give

Focus on those closest to the major gift decision—the 10% who can give 90%

NEXT MONTH: Why People Give and Why They Don’t

LAST MONTH: Assuring Major Gifts Success