A Major Gifts Mentality Part 3:
Ann C. Fitzgerald, President
In parts one and two of this series, we explained the role of the team and the plan that has to be in place to successfully solicit major gifts. The last piece is great execution on the plan by the team.
- Prepare for the meeting. There are a rare few fundraisers who can “wing it” successfully in a donor meeting. The rest of us need to prepare. Think about the donor and what might motivate a gift, set a goal for the meeting, write a script or outline if that helps, and practice your presentation with others on the team.
- Follow up. Asking for a gift is different from closing on a gift. Many a gift has been lost by the lack of follow up. It’s as if we put all our energy into getting the meeting and preparing for it that we don’t have the time to complete the gift. Immediately after the meeting, write a “call report” to capture the main points. Identify and assign the next steps.
- Communicate consistently. Don’t go dark on your donors. Institute a communications plan so that new prospects are included in updates. Whenever possible, find ways to personalize communications, conveying the message to donors: “You are important.”
- Be accountable to the team. Hold regular meetings to revise strategies, relay progress, and discuss messaging. Share what worked and what didn’t. Not everyone has the same skillset. Be candid with team members when you need help.
- Measure progress. Track basic numbers such as meetings held, asks made, and gifts received. Delve deeper over time to evaluate when and why donors have increased their giving or the number of cultivation steps needed to secure a first gift.
A great fundraiser was once asked how much money he raised. He said, “I don’t raise money, I receive it.” A major gifts mentality means recognizing that we are part of a special exchange in which we receive the donor’s generosity and the donor receives the opportunity to be part of our mission.
Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.