10 Easy Things You Can Do To Improve Your Fundraising by Next Week

    1.  Organize a thankathon for your donors.

Your number one effort needs to be focused on your CURRENT donors.

Focus on your current donors and show them some love!

Don’t let them drop away!

Go all out to make them feel special and valued.

You’ve got to focus on current donors and love them alot.

Here’s how to hold a thankathon for your donors. It’s easy and it’s fun!

2. Plan visits with your top 20 current donors.

Make these top donors feel like your organization’s best friends.

Or even like family.

Try turning your current donors into your organization’s Friends.

Ask your donors to tell you their story of how they came to choose your organization to support.

You’ll learn things that will surprise you.

Pick up my handy list of 41 Major Gift Cultivation Questions to ask your major gift prospects. (free for newsletter subscribers).

3. Rewrite your thank you letter to make it warm and personal.

I bet your thank you acknowledgements can stand a bit of improving. Ditch the lofty and formal tone in favor of warm and friendly.

Help your donor feel happy that she gave to you.

See if you can create a letter that will make your donor’s heart happy!

Check out my How to Craft a Killer Thank You Letter with its list of thank you letter do’s and don’ts.

4. Create a campaign for lapsed donors.

I think lapsed donors are the hidden gold for your cause.

It’s so very much easier to bring a lapsed donor back into the fold than it is to convert a current prospect into a donor.

Send a special appeal to lapsed donors titled: “We love you, we miss you, we want you back!”

I have to say that if I got a happy letter like that one, I just might renew my gift!

5. Rewrite your solicitation letter to make it all about the donor.

You’ve got to make your appeal all about the donor and what she wants to accomplish. It’s not about you or your organization!

Knock off this sample:  real live donor-centered appeal letter.

6. Plan visits with your top 20 major gift prospects just to bring them up to date.

And be sure you use these two ridiculously simple strategies to develop your prospect’s interest in your cause:

  • Don’t do all the talking. Listen instead.Visiting with donors and prospects can really be enjoyable!

(We all know that the kiss of death to a fundraiser is to be BORING. And the best way to be boring is to talk to much!)

  • Ask your donor: “What are your impressions?”

7.  Update your on-line donation form.

We all know that donors are moving more and more to donate online. Even if they are getting paper appeals.

I just wonder how many people are ABANDONING your gift “shopping cart.”

(I know that I abandon shopping carts all the time on line, don’t you?)

Check out this killer list to optimize your online donation form from the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog.

8. Add the chart “Your Gifts at Work” to your web site and your newsletter.

Donors these days really want to see where their money is going.

They want to see the impact of their gift.

A chart is easy, it’s clear and it’s effective.

There's money out there for your cause. Just get organized and go after it!

9. Block off two days a week for the next three months to make visits with donors.

If you make that investment of time, you should certainly be able to raise the money you need.

I find that the biggest obstacle to a major gifts effort is simply getting out of the office.

Set your goal. Draw a line in the sand. Make a commitment. Get your staff’s support to aid and abet you.

Then make it happen!

10. Plan a party to honor your founders, former board members, former capital campaign donors to bring them back into the fold.

Whenever I organize a major capital campaign, I start right here with this event.

Because you better believe that these folks are your major donor prospects for the future.

AND I bet they are feeling ignored and abandoned by your wonderful organization, just because they are no longer involved.

But once, they gave you their heart and their money. They still have a deep connection!

Bring them back into the fold by honoring them. And then the door is open for you to keep them involved.


There are actually some simple things you can do right now to improve your fundraising.

Don’t wait!

The barn is burning down. So very much is at stake. Don’t mess around in meetings, or lengthy deliberations.

Just get it done.

And good luck! : )

Question: Is this overkill? Or is it doable? Let me know with a comment!

  • Chrisb

    Brilliant as always.  I look forward to reading your blog every Friday, leaves me inspired and ready to raise more money!

  • DD

    Sound ideas, unlike my ED’s suggestion to have every board member come up with a $1,000 individual donor in the next two weeks.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much Chris! 

  • Anonymous

    Wow, the ED is living in a dream world! Good luck!

  • Sandy

    Great stuff Gail!  I love a good thank-a-thon.  It usually wows a donor.

    Sandy Rees
    Fundraising Coach

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Sandy! 

  • Megan

    Gail–you are awesome!  A question for you on visiting donors.  We’re an international nonprofit with a $2M budget with donors from around the country and world.  As the sole development staff, I can certainly call and check in with our top 20 donors.  However, in-person visits are cost prohibitive at this point. Any suggestions for focusing on visits when these generally occur via phone at present?  Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Well do what you can on the phone. But if you are really going to cultivate these people for larger gifts, you will have to be in front of them somehow. 
    Maybe you can put them on a committee and they will travel once or twice a year to meet with you. That way you can cultivate everyone at once. 
    But nothing can take the place of a private one-on-one conversation about the donor’s vision and how you can help make their dream come true. 

  • Larry

    Once again, I appreciate your upbeat message and the reminder of easy-to-dp activities.

  • Megan

    Great advice! However do you have practical suggestions for a national organization with only one development staff and one office, but will donors and board members spread all over the country?
    Thank you dinners/events and donor visits two days a week are next to impossible for me. I really need some creative ideas though to keep our current donors and renew some our lapsed. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    What about a VIP mailing list with private updates from you or your CEO. Make them feel really special, like insiders, who are privy to your organization’s challenges and opportunities.  
    Many times we don’t want to share our challenges but that makes donors feel more connected to you and feels honest and transparent. 
    If you really do treat those donors like “family,” what would you do? How would you communicate?  What would be your tone? And your frequency?

  • Chris

    Brilliant, I am in the exact same situaiton as Megan and your suggestion is right on the mark Gail.

  • Megan

    Thank you, Gail!  The committee is a good idea.  We’re also trying to be strategic about scheduling donor visits in conjunction with our CEO’s travel plans.  Funny, two different Megans posting with basically the same question.  You are an inspiration to us all.

  • Meghan M

    I like Gail’s response. Also, I recommend inviting them to occasional ‘insider’ conference calls with org leadership. And, depending on your org and your ability to do so, include those you serve from time to time or their stories.

  • Meghan M

    You could also try some video-conferencing. Still not as good as true face-to-face, but can be a good in-between strategy