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A Major Gift Fundraising Template Doesn't Need To Be Complicated

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Have you fallen into the trap of making your major gift fundraising template complicated or hard to use? I want to encourage you that it doesn’t need to be that way. You may be surprised to know how often I meet directors who are spending more time developing plans than they are meeting potential donors. If that is you, you may be glad to know there are some basic principles behind a Major Gift Fundraising Template that you can start using right now.

Simplifying Your Major Gift Fundraising Template

First: List the Donor/Prospect Name and assign each to a Major Donor Rep

I see many nonprofits who do not do this first task, at least not in its entirety. It is important to know who is calling whom and to have a system for tracking where each donor/prospect is in the process.

Second: Record and Research Previous Giving History 

For any repeat donor that you have, you should also have a record of what the donor gave the previous year. After you have documented last year’s giving amount, research the donor’s giving history and pay attention to the direction their giving is going. This simple research can help you set a goal for the year.

Third: Set a Goal

Write down a goal for giving for each donor. For example, If your donor gave $5,000 the previous year, and you think they could give $10,000 this year – then write that down as your goal.  You want your goal to be accurate to what you think a donor will be able to give.

Fourth: Write Down Your Next Step and the Date of the Next Step

Don’t forget to set a date for your next step. Doing this will help you keep on track and give you some accountability to being timely with your actions. It also ensures that your donor/prospect knows what the next step is. You never want your donor or prospect to be in limbo about what comes next. For example, you could write down take donor out for coffee on 8/15/19 or play golf with him/her on 9/15/19.

Fifth: Write Down the Expected Ask Date

This step is truly essential to your planning template. If you have heard me before, you have heard me say many times, “It is not your job to raise funds, but it is your job to plant seeds.” We are building steps toward a relationship and an ask. Your template should show where you are in the process, and at some point, you need to move to asking your donor to join your mission.

Sixth: List the Amount Received

Lastly: Follow up 

Your follow up should include a thank you and a report of the impact of their gift. These donors have just joined or re-joined your mission. This is an exciting opportunity to remind them why they gave, and it is also a chance for you to continue your relationship with them by expressing sincere gratitude.     

Now, put it all together by incorporating all of the steps into a spreadsheet template. The beautiful thing about this development plan template is that everyone who sees it will know what you raised last year, your goal for this year, and where you are in the development process with an assigned donor. Leaders will see the steps you are taking to achieve that goal, and most importantly, they will see that you are moving to the ask! In a straightforward template, you will easily be able to show that you are moving your contacts forward.

If you would like to discuss this idea further, you can call 616-481-3646 or email [email protected]

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  • Natalie Lanoville

    Hi Sarah! I'm familiar with managing such a plan in an Excel spreadsheet. It looks as though the link is to a full departmental development plan, not the major donor tracking plan.
  • Sarah

    Hi, I'm confused by the reference to the template at the end. You write, "The beautiful thing about this development plan template is that everyone who sees it will know what you raised last year, your goal for this year, and where you are in the development process with an assigned donor." But I don't see any of those things on the linked template. I'd love to see how it should look, though!
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