I think we can agree that providing donors with excellent service is necessary to your non-profit if you want to continue to grow your donor file, and subsequently, your revenue. But one thing I’ve noticed, especially with some smaller non-profits where staff wear multiple hats, is that they assume major gift work is simply providing good donor service.

Here are some examples to better highlight what I’m talking about. Good donor service is making sure you’re available to answer questions promptly and taking care of any needs that your donors raise. That’s good donor service. But it is not major gifts, even though in the process of providing good service, you will get to know some of those donors better. Good major gift work is actively seeking out your donor to get to know them personally. See the difference?

Another example – making sure that a stewardship event runs smoothly and that everyone has a good time is good donor service. But good major gift work is having a plan for actively seeking out specific donors at the event to connect with them or solicit their feedback on the topic or experience after the event.

Good donor service is making sure every donor on your “major gift level list” gets a beautifully designed, pre-printed holiday card. But good major gifts work would mean taking the time to actually hand address, hand stamp, and write very personal notes on holiday cards for your qualified caseloads.

Richard and I are concerned that some front-line fundraisers believe that providing good donor service is all you need to do for major gift work. It’s certainly PART of doing major gift work, but it’s just one part of what you do. If you’re a front-line fundraiser and all you’re doing is providing donor service, then you’re neglecting the real work of a front-line fundraiser.

That work is the very difficult job of figuring out your donor’s passions and interests, where you have your donor constantly engaged with you and your organization at such a high level that they feel intimately part of helping you carry out your mission.

That type of work (major gifts) takes a proactive, strategic, and disciplined mindset coupled with the ability to form a strong relationship with an individual donor. There is no skimping on this. But, for many front-line fundraisers or Development Directors of smaller non-profits who are doing many jobs, it’s easy to forget that doing good donor service is not all you need for major gifts.

Providing good donor service is not major gifts. And major gifts is not only about providing excellent donor service. Until you understand that, you will not have a thriving portfolio of major donors who are thoroughly engaged with your organization.