What You Don’t Know About Major Gifts Fundraising That Could Backfire

There are many misunderstandings about the major gifts process.

Here are a few strategies that can push you in the wrong direction – away from your donors and their gifts. Don’t let them backfire on you!

1. Are you rushing to ask for gifts, so you can make your financial goals?

Uh oh, you have a dilemma on your hands! On one hand, you have your own goals and financial targets to meet.

But your donor may be on a completely different time schedule. She may not have even thought about that six-figure gift that you’ve been dreaming and planning for.

If you move too quickly to ask a major donor for their gift, everything – and I mean everything – may backfire. Asking too quickly can feel like an affront to your donor.

She really doesn’t like being treated like an ATM. It makes her dislike you and even avoid you. If she thinks all you want from her is her money, she will feel empty, used or even taken advantage of.

Takeaway: Your fundraising goals are important, but your donor’s personal timetable must take precedence!

2. Do you really believe your wealth screening data?

Ah, the golden key that wealth screening offers, promising to identify the wealthy donors in your database. But beware – it may send you in the wrong direction.

Here’s what can backfire about wealth screening results: the data may not be 100% accurate. Beware particularly of real estate data – it may indicate to you that the wrong donor has mega property.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for wealth screening. But you have to vet all of this information. It has to be verified in the qualification and discovery process.

Not only that, but it has to be analyzed, prioritized and broken into small pieces of work.

Takeaway: Don’t take your wealth screening data literally.  Go through a careful discovery process on highly rated donors.

3.  Think you can shoot from the hip without a structure or focus with your major donors?

Better think again. This will backfire on you so quickly – because you are spreading yourself too thin, without spending enough time on any one person. You’ll never raise money with this strategy, (or lack thereof!).

So many clients have come to us, asking for help in where to focus. Who should they pick up the phone and call, and who should they put on the backburner?

Let me say it here: your time is precious.

When you don’t know where to spend your time and you are just guessing your way along, then you are pretty much lost.

Structure is one of the key aspects we teach in our Major Gift Coaching program. We can help you sort through your wealth screening, find your opportunities, and create a portfolio management plan. Our 2020 cohort is already filling up!   www.majorgiftscoaching.com

Takeaway: Consider joining our Major Gift Coaching cohort for next year if you want to set up a strong process to close transformational gifts.

4. Are you loading too many donors in your portfolio?

Loading too many donors in a portfolio is a surefire way to dilute your efforts. There is no way that one person can develop close relationships with 125 people. You must be realistic about the number of hours in a day or week.

Your grand plan to manage 125 prospects and set them all up for major gifts will surely backfire on you.

The best you can do is manage 60 relationships with people well, and put the rest of the prospects in your portfolio on the backburner.

Takeaway: Your fundraising totals will be higher if you restrict yourself to fewer donors.

5. Are you asking for gifts without involving or engaging your donors?

Most of us know that larger, transformational gifts come from long term relationships with donors.

Also, the more a donor is involved or engaged, then the more they will give.

It stands to reason that the donors who really understand your work and get to know your leadership are the ones who tend to make the big contributions.

One leads to the other. The involvement leads to the investment.

Many managers are pushing fundraisers out the door to “just ask.” Guess what – this will backfire on you. Because, as I mentioned above, moving too quickly to the ask, without enough engagement, will result in a small gift.

Whereas, long term nurturing of a major donor relationship can result gift after gift after gift –  culminating in a large bequest!

Takeaway: Develop a trusting relationship first. Then ask.

Bottom Line: Pay attention to your donors and your process. Otherwise things may backfire on you and you’ll lose serious ground!