If you’re responsible for a major donor program that isn’t bringing in the results it once did, you’re not alone. In today’s post, we’ll share six tips to help you breathe new life into a stagnant major donor program.
1. Define Your Ideal Donor
The first step to rejuvenating your major donor program is to take a step back and define your ideal donor.
- What characteristics do they possess?
- What philanthropic interests do they have?
- Are they already involved with your organization?
- What is their relationship to your organization?
- What is their giving history?
- Do they have family members who participate in your program?
- Do they have the capacity to give?
Once you have a clear understanding of who your ideal donor is, you can begin to develop strategies for reaching them.
2. Create a Sense of Urgency
What many fundraisers don’t realize, is that creating a sense of urgency is one of the most effective ways to reignite your major donor program. By appealing to a donor’s sense of urgency, you can not only jump-start your major donor program but also increase your chances of meeting your fundraising goals.
A sense of urgency can be created in many different ways, but one of the most common is through the use of language. For example, using phrases such as “act now” or “don’t miss out” in your appeals will create a sense of urgency that will encourage donors to take action. You can also create a sense of urgency by sharing stories about how their donation will be used to make an immediate impact. Whatever method you choose, be sure to be clear and concise so that donors understands the importance of their donation.
1. Be clear about what you’re asking for and why it’s needed now.
When making an appeal, it’s imperative that you are clear about what you’re asking for and why it’s needed now. Vague or confusing appeals will only serve to frustrate donors and will likely result in few (if any) donations. So take the time to craft a well-thought-out pitch that clearly outlines the need and why immediate action is required.
2. Use strong language that creates a sense of urgency.
The language you use in your appeal can also help create a sense of urgency. For example, words like “time-sensitive,” “critical,” “dire,” etc., convey a sense of urgency and importance that will prompt donors to take action.
3. Offer limited-time incentives or match challenge grants.
Incentives are always a great way to motivate people to take action—and this is especially true when it comes to major donor appeals. Limited-time offers or match challenge grants are both excellent ways to create a sense of urgency while also showing donors the impact their gift can have.
4. Set deadlines for when gifts must be received by.
Setting deadlines is another effective way to create urgency in your appeals. By letting donors know that their gift must be received by x date in order for it to be eligible for the matching grant or other incentive you’re offering, you’ll encourage them to take action sooner rather than later.
5. Appeal to emotion with stories about those who will be impacted by the gift.
Finally, one of the best ways to create urgency in your appeals is by tugging on heartstrings and appealing to emotion with stories about those who will be impacted by the gift—whether it’s children in need, victims of disaster, etc., personal stories are always powerful motivators.
3. Get Personal
In today’s age of technology, it’s easy to forget the importance of personalization when trying to engage with potential donors. However, if you want your major donor program to be successful, you need to make sure that each donor feels like their gift is going to make a difference in the lives of others – not just add another number to your fundraising totals. One way to achieve this level of personalization is by using handwritten notes or phone calls instead of emails or mass mailings whenever possible.
When making a proposal, it is important to keep the specific donor in mind. This means tailoring the proposal to their interests and needs. For example, if a donor is interested in education, then the proposal should focus on how their donation will help fund educational initiatives. By personalizing proposals, fundraisers can show donors that they are valued and that their donations are needed and appreciated.
When crafting a personalized proposal, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Know your audience – Take the time to learn about the donor’s background, interests, and needs. This will help you customize the proposal specifically for them.
- Start with a needs assessment – In order to tailored the proposal to the donor’s interests, you need to first understand what those interests are. A needs assessment will help you identify what the donor is looking for and how best to match their needs with your organization’s mission.
- Be clear about what you’re asking for – Be specific about how much money you need and what it will be used for. Vague requests will not be taken seriously by donors.
- Make it personal – Address the donor by name and use language that shows that you understand their specific situation.
- Keep it short – Proposals should be concise and to-the-point. No one wants to read a lengthy document; they just want to know how their donation will be used and why it is needed.
- Follow up – After sending the proposal, make sure to follow up with the donor to thank them for their time and answer any questions they may have.
4. Invest More Time in Building Relationships
A lack of relationship-building is often the reason why donors stop giving. By taking the time to get to know your donors and their interests, you can reignite their passion for your cause.
The first step is to assess your current relationships with major donors. Are you regularly staying in touch? Are you engaging them in conversations? Do you know what their interests are? If not, it’s time to start rebuilding those relationships from the ground up. Here are a few tips:
One of the best ways to build a relationship is to get personal. When you reach out, take the time to ask about their families, their hobbies, and their lives outside of philanthropy. This will show that you care about them as people, not just as potential donors.
Make Them Feel special
Your major donors are special because they give generously of their time and resources. Make sure they feel appreciated by sending handwritten notes, hosting events in their honor, and involving them in your decision-making process. When they feel valued, they will be more likely to continue supporting your organization.
Keep Them Informed
Your major donors want to know how their contributions are making a difference. Keep them updated on your progress and share stories of how their gifts have helped achieve your goals. This will help them feel connected to your work and motivated to keep giving.
Building relationships is essential to restarting a stagnant major donor program. By taking the time to get to know your donors and involve them in your work, you can reignite their passion for your cause. When major donors feel appreciated and informed, they will be more likely to continue supporting your organization.
5. Send a Hug Letter
There is a tried-and-true method for getting your major donor program back on track, and it all starts with what’s known as a “hug letter.”
A hug letter is a type of letter that is sent to major donors with the purpose of reengaging them with your nonprofit. The key to a successful hug letter is to make it personal and specific to the donor. You want the donor to feel like you are genuinely interested in their continued support and that you are grateful for their past contributions. Here are some tips for drafting an effective hug letter:
Be sincere: Be sure to express your genuine gratitude for the donor’s past support and let them know how much their continued involvement means to you and your organization. This is an opportunity to say “thank you” to donors – not to ask for money.
Be specific: A good hug letter contains specific references to the donor’s previous gifts and how they were used by your organization. This helps the donor feel connected to your work and reminds them of the positive impact they have had on your nonprofit.
Be personal: In addition to being specific, your hug letter should also be personal. This means addressing the donor by name and using other personal touches such as hand-written notes or even small gifts. Remember, the goal is to make the donor feel special and appreciated.
Sending a “hug letter” is an effective way to reengage major donors who have become disengaged from your nonprofit. Be sure to make the letter personal and specific to the donor, and express your genuine gratitude for their past support.
6. Survey Your Donors
If your major donor program has become stagnant, it may be time to survey your donors to see what might be wrong. Sending out a survey is a great way to collect feedback from your donors so that you can make changes to your program and better engage them. Here are a few tips on how to survey your major donors:
Keep it short and sweet: No one wants to fill out a long survey, so make sure you keep yours concise. Stick to the most important questions and you’ll get the information you need without overwhelming your donors.
Make it relevant: Before you send out a survey, think about what information would be most helpful for you in restarting your program. Ask questions that will give you insight into what your donors want and how they feel about your program.
Be specific: Avoid general questions that could yield vague answers. Instead, ask specific questions that will help you zero in on the issues at hand. This way, you can make more targeted changes to your program based on the feedback you receive.
Follow up: After you’ve sent out the surveys, take some time to follow up with your donors individually. This shows that you value their feedback and are committed to making changes based on what they had to say. A phone call or personal email can go a long way in building relationships with your donors.
Asking for feedback from your major donors is a great way to jumpstart a stagnant major donor program. By sending out a survey, you can collect valuable information about what your donors want and how they feel about your program.