The annual summer sojourn to beautiful Southern Indiana and the wonderfully simple life it brings for a week brought a flood of memories of years prior during my extended drive. Those memories all seemed to be centered on the relationships built, which have lasted for decades among our large clan of participants.

Perhaps most special, as I played all of the relationships out in my mind, was the number of those relationships spanning multiple generations.

SummerMajor Gift Solicitations Need Strong Relationships for Success

Obviously, the creation and nurturing of relationships, with the impact they have on fundraising, is where the two worlds crossed over in my mind. Over the past few weeks, I have been fortunate to be part of superb webinar presentations with numerous experts in the world of philanthropy on this key subject of “major gift solicitations.” In case you missed them here are a couple of them below.

Cue the Experts

First, is Kent Stroman with his “Conversational Fundraising” and his session on asking. His ten-step staircase describes all of the key steps in building a donor or prospect relationship prior to, during and after any major gift solicitation.

Second, is Marc Pitman and his “Ask Without Fear” session. Marc outlined various methods and tools to bring engagement and relationship building to the forefront in preparation for major gift solicitations.

Relationships Matter in Fundraising and Life

I am always surprised how many professional fundraisers, who have outstanding family and personal relationships that do not use the same exact methods of relationship building with prospects and donors. Even the aspect of relationships spanning decades and generations, I alluded to above when recalling past family vacations, can come to fruition with donors if the same steps and techniques are used.

Shortcuts in Relationship Building Spell Disaster

The biggest mistakes I witness as a board member, major donor and technology partner to hundreds of nonprofits involve taking shortcuts in creating and growing relationships. Such shortcuts may result in a quick first time gift, but they pale in comparison to what could and should be asked for and obtained from donors. This scenario becomes even more frightening when those involved learn about and understand the “LIFETIME VALUE” of any major donor.

The lifetime value can only be realized after proper relationships and been built and nurtured over the long term. The key item to keep reminding ourselves, is a few dozen major donors reaching their true potential lifetime value can have a large impact of the mission of just about any small to mid-size nonprofit!

Please think about your past vacations with family members and friends and how special relationships were spawned and grown. Those same key facets of time, effort, extended conversations, multiple outings and caring can be just as magical in your major gift fundraising efforts.

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Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.