Potential major gift donors (like all donors) have philanthropic motivations.
But have you asked them what they are?
As a fundraiser, the way you build trust with donors is by getting to know them.
The best way to do that is by asking them questions.
Do you know:
- why they give to your organization, specifically?
- their connection to your cause?
- their favorite types of projects and programs?
- how they feel about your organization?
The constituents who answer positively to these questions aren’t major gift prospects because of their capacity to give mega gifts; they’re prospects because they have a passion to give an amount that is personally significant.
If you’re new to your position as a fundraiser, or the donor is new to the organization, start by making a call to introduce yourself and thank them. Then, make time to meet in person and ask these types of questions, or send an electronic survey.
We’ve all heard the expression “If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.” Start building the relationship by asking for advice.
If they were to support a certain project or program, how would they support it? What would they expect to see as a result? What are the most memorable ways they have been acknowledged?
In this initial interaction, don’t ask for money. Make sure to keep good notes from the conversation.
Thank your donor for their time and ideas. Ask if you can put some of their suggestions into practice. As you begin using their suggestions, tell them! Let them feel the same joy and gratification of knowing their ideas are making a difference!
As you ramp up your plan to implement your new program, keep your donor up to date on not only the progress, but also the ongoing needs for sustainability. Your continued communication and updates will build trust with your donor.
Keep communicating! Don’t stop with this one project. Your donors are invested in your mission. You can keep them engaged by continuing to ask for advice, showing them the impact of their gift, and acknowledging their support. Engaged donors will stay with you because they trust you.
They will become your greatest advocates, and they will increase the positive impact of your mission!