Why does your donor love your organization so much? Have you sat down with your donor and really listened to her answer? If she said something like, “well, I just think you do a great job,” did you dig deeper to find out her true motivation?
When I’m talking to prospective clients, you would not believe how many major gift programs I discover are stagnant. Year after year, the overall revenue is barely increasing. In some cases, these organizations have great retention rates, but they are not moving donors up in their giving.
They give the same year after year after year.
In other cases, there is high value attrition and the organization is only hanging on each year because new donors come in to save the program from tanking.
A couple of months ago I sat with one Director of Major Gifts and she said, “I’m not sure our donors have any more capacity. I’ve checked their wealth ratings, they have given faithfully for years, and they just won’t give more.”
Then I asked about a specific donor. “Well, why does she give to you?” The Director of Major Gifts responded, “Well, I think it’s because she likes children.”
(Wait a minute! You think it’s because she likes children, or you know?)
And that is the problem.
Richard and I are finding more and more major gift fundraisers who really don’t know the passions, interests and motivations of their donors. It’s not that these fundraisers are not good at their work; it’s just that they could be much more successful if they started asking their donors “why?” more often.
That simple little question will unlock a series of other questions that will lead you to clues and “aha” moments of who your donor is and why he is connected to your organization. In other words, you have to know the donor’s story of why he supports you.
Many times, a major gift fundraiser will ask me how he can get a ten, twenty or even a one hundred thousand dollar a year donor to go to another level in her giving. I always ask, “Do you know why that donor is so invested in your organization? What is the donor’s story?”
In almost every case, the answer is “kind of, but not really.”
If you have all the right elements that will help you have a successful major gift program (structure, management and accountability), and yet you still find your program is just treading water, you need to ask yourself how well you really know your donors.
Knowing why your donors support your organization’s work is critical, because it will lead you to the right path in knowing how to care for them AND how to solicit them correctly.
Richard and I have story after story of major gift officers who have finally unlocked that information from a donor and then the relationship takes off – and so does the revenue.
As a major gift fundraiser, this is your number one job: find out the passions, interests and motivations of your donors, and understand and know “their stories” – then inspire them with offers that will bring them joy.
That takes time and dedication on your part to do well. You won’t get to the next level of your fundraising success without getting this right.