As we travel the country doing feasibility studies, one thing we encounter almost every time, is a donor who cannot be interviewed because they are upset with the organization for not appropriately recognizing their contribution during the last capital campaign.

Donors who give major gifts are showing they really trust you and are willing to invest in your organization. These are people who believe in your mission and your vision. In essence, they are your organization’s best friends… but are you treating them that way?

When leaders take time to get to know major donors, life-long friendships can be made and long-term partnerships for your organization are formed. These aren’t artificial, but true friendships.

Are you friends with your major donors? If not, why? Do you understand why they trust you with their gifts? Do you take time to get to know them, thank them and keep them invested in what is going on with your organization? Do you treat them like a friend, saying thank you and respecting their wishes?

Taking care of donors is critical to the future of your organization. Think about what you can do yet this year to strengthen the friendship or partnership you have with your major gift donors.

  • How did you initially thank them? Who thanked them? Did they just get a form letter or did someone take the time to call or visit to convey your appreciation?
  • How have you kept them informed throughout the year (4+ times) about what’s going on and the impact of their gift? What information can you send them before year’s end?
  • How do you include the entire family (or at least the spouse) in the thanks? How can you bring the whole family closer to your organization?
  • How do you recognize their support over the years and for different fundraising efforts? In many cases, your organization’s best friends may not be the ones who gave the most last year, but those who have offered the most reliable support over the years.

Take time to consider how your time includes thanking major gift donors. Take a look at your calendar for the rest of the year. Are you making major gift donor relationships a priority?

Now picture this: The next time your organization is thinking about a capital campaign and conducts a feasibility study, each of your major donors greets you saying, “Hey, what’s next? I’m in!!!”

Posted by Peggy Vinson
Peggy Vinson

Written by Peggy Vinson

Since joining DBD in 2005, Peggy has coached executive staff and volunteers on increasing the effectiveness of their fundraising efforts. Peggy’s prescriptive approach focuses on the organization’s strengths and challenges. She meets her clients where they are, helping all to grow their fundraising skills. By developing strategic, measurable plans and skill sets, Peggy helps organizations not only meet their goals this year, but increase their capacity for the future.

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