Our data tells us that you must have a minimum of two personal contacts per year with each of your major donors if you plan to keep them engaged and giving at higher and higher levels.

Here are my top five suggestions for the most personal and effective contacts:

1. Call them!

Have your CEO or a board member call your donors, whether it is to thank them, invite them to a cultivation event, ask for their input or feedback on an idea, or share a new issue or challenge your organization is facing.

2. Have your CEO send out an email to all the donors in your major gifts giving society every month.

It needs to have the chatty and personal feel of a holiday letter you’d send to your friends and family members, updating them on your life.

3. Learn which aspect of your work each of your major donors cares about most.

Once a year, make sure you call or meet with them to inform them personally about how that particular program has benefited from their support. Give them specific numbers of additional people served, lives saved, families fed, etc.

4. Take them to lunch.

Meet with your donors face-to-face once a year and ask for their feedback. Spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% talking. Ask what advice they have for you. Find out how you could be doing a better job of telling your story in the community. Share some of the challenges your organization is facing. Let your hair down a bit.

5. Host a small-group “CEO Golden Hour” lunch for no more than ten major donors at a time.

Follow up afterwards to see if they have more ideas for you and if they have anyone else to send your way. Again, spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% talking.

Which two will you choose for each major donor each year?

Terry Axelrod

Terry Axelrod

Founder and CEO at Benevon
Terry Axelrod, founder and CEO of Benevon, has more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit field. She created the Benevon Model after serving as the first development director at a private inner-city school, where she designed and implemented the fundraising programs that yielded $7.2 million in two years and a significant endowment. Over the past 20 years, Benevon has trained more than 5,000 nonprofit teams to customize this systematic process for building sustainable funding.