Start small, think BIG!

In my last post, I shared the 5 steps you need to take to get a bigger gift from your donors who have the potential to do so. To summarize, they were:

  1. A belief, on the part of the MGO, that big things are possible.
  2. Having a qualified caseload.
  3. Believing that there are a few donors in the caseload who can give a large gift, and searching for them.
  4. Planning to make it happen.
  5. Accepting that all of this takes time.

The steps sound easy, but in fact, they aren’t. They take time and perseverance. Searching for the high capacity donors in your caseload will take time. Hopefully, you will have some wealth information and other information available online. You might also network and find an acquaintance of the donor who will talk to you. But it will take time.

Once you find the donor, you will have to work carefully and relationally to find the program that is an almost-perfect match with the donor’s passions and interests – then spent a considerable amount of time bringing them face to face with the project and meeting the people (or seeing the animals or natural resource) that their giving will benefit. This may mean going with the donor to an overseas project or to some remote location. But you have to do it, because the main objective is to bring the donor as close as you can to the need.

Having done all that, you are ready for the ask. Below are stories showing how several MGOs did just that, and the result is that each MGO moved his donor from low giving to high giving:

  1. From $10,000 to $4 million in three months. The donor’s mother grew up very poor. He had been successful in his business and wanted to give poor kids a chance. The MGO learned about this donor’s motivations and interests, and introduced him to a project that would fulfill what the donor wanted. The MGO took the donor to an empty lot; he walked to the four corners of the property and dramatically put a stake in each corner and said to the donor: “Paul (not his real name), with your gift, this is where a building will rise and bring hope and a future to hundreds of kids in this city.” The donor gave $4 million to the project. This happened over three months.
  2. From $5,000 to $3.5 million in 18 months. The donor had always been interested in helping kids find a better future and was introduced to a program with proven success in the area of her interest. The MGO took the donor to the program countless times to see the kids and learn about the expansion of the program. Several visits included the CEO and some program people, lending credence to the project. The introduction to the program, the visits and the making of the case took 18 months before the donor committed to a $3.5 million gift.
  3. From $2,000 to $1 million in 1 year. This donor was interested in helping single moms and had been giving $2,000 a year to the program for a number of years. The MGO introduced the donor to a project to expand housing. She took the donor to the site and introduced her to single moms currently in the program. The donor was able to see how these good women had been protected and helped, and it captured her heart. The CEO and the MGO presented the donor with an opportunity to expand the program, which she did with a $1 million cash gift. It took the MGO one year to make all of this happen.

You can see how the process unfolds in these stories. A donor with inclination and capacity is presented with a compelling need and a believable solution; he or she is taken to the scene of the need and interacts with those people he or she will help; an authority figure (leader and program person) lends credence to the program; and then the ask is made.

This is essentially the process and system to make this happen. But you need to realize that there are just a few donors on your caseload who will make this journey with you. You need to find them and work hard to personally expose them to the need, so that it captures their hearts. Remember, as you do this, to think bold and big. The need is great, and the solution the donor can bring is also great.

Richard

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