One of the major reasons major gift programs and MGOs fail is that their organization does not have a system in place to create donor offers. I have had a strong conviction that every non-profit, large and small, should have someone in the organization that has terminal responsibility for creating donor offers.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, a donor offer is to a major donor what a product is to a customer in the commercial world. If you don’t have a product to sell to a customer – if the shelves in your retail store are bare – you cannot expect to secure and you will not get a transaction. It will not happen! So if you don’t have a good donor offer, then you can’t expect to be successful in matching your organization’s needs to the interests and passions of a donor. It will not happen!
This topic of donor offers is the third most often mentioned need for training in our recent Major Gift Academy survey. We intend to spend a great deal of time on this important subject when we launch. In the meantime, here is “the CliffsNotes version” of the six steps to developing donor offers:
- You must define the problem properly. We have covered this point in our post “In Fundraising, It’s About the Problem, Not The Process”.
- You must have a strong relationship with your program people. They are the key to your success. There are seven things you must remember to do when you are connecting with program folks:
— Set up regular times to visit program, and learn as much as you can about each program category.
— When you visit, put your donor hat on and ask the questions they would ask.
— Take pictures and video (ask for permission).
— Gather stories that you can share with donors – stories about the need for your asks, and stories about results to tell your donor her giving is making a difference.
— Get feedback from the program person about how you and the major gift department can be supportive of what they are doing. In other words, you want to know how the pursuit of YOUR needs is affecting the program staff.
— Actively share with and educate the program staff on how their work and input has a direct impact on raising money. Most program people do not get that feedback.
— Just like with a donor, find out their communication preferences and get permission to communicate with them regularly.
- You must have a strong relationship with finance people. They are the ones that control the financial information. Work with them, just as you will with program, so they understand the important link between what they do and raising money.
- Package your budget. I think we have almost worn this one out, since we mention it so much, but it is a very important step to creating donor offers. Get this white paper and follow the instructions in it. It will really help.
- Take the information from your program visits and the stories you have collected (point #2 above), the info from finance and the results from your program packaging (point #4) and create your donor offers, noting that a good donor offer has 4 important elements.
- Follow the advice we give in our white paper “The Five Steps of Proposal Writing for Major Gifts”. This white paper will give you all the steps you need to follow in creating a good donor offer, and what you need to do to present that offer to the donor.
There is a lot of other nuance to all of this advice on creating good donor offers. But these six points, and their related sub-points, will get you on your way. I know it is a lot of detail and hard work, but that is what it will take to get to a good donor offer. A good donor offer is what will really make your donor happy – and it will be the major reason you are successful.