Major gift fundraising is all about long-term relationships. You’re asking a donor to commit to giving more than once — usually over a long period of time, and possibly in perpetuity. Get to know them personally, and sincerely, and plan on maintaining the friendship. Fake friendships are transparent and mentally dismissed. As you would a friend, find out their passions and interests and reach out to them with thoughtful gifts focused on their interests. Let them know you think of them more than superficially.
Some ideas for thoughtfulness:
- Send a donor the gift of a book, obscure article or publication about their interest with a personal note referencing their passion.
- Invite a baseball fan to a game, and arrange for them to meet the head of the stadium or one of the team members.
- Include a diehard Republican at a campaign luncheon with the candidate.
- Give a theater lover tickets to a play with a backstage meet-and-greet pass.
- Invite a lawyer to an event where a noted judge is speaking.
- Send tickets to a garden tour to a passionate gardener.
Engage the person, not pushing your talking points. Donors know a stump speech. Relax, connect with the donor via their area of interest, and develop a relationship before honing in on your agenda — a true philanthropist will know why you are there, so no need to push your agenda. And there’s never a need for hard sell.
Ben’s Takeaway: “You have to be on the donor’s agenda before they jump onto yours.”