Cultivation & Stewardship

5 Ways To Attract More Major Gifts This Year

Your next major donor is likely already involved with your nonprofit - you just need to find them, and communicate with them in the right way. Here's how!

Your next major donor is likely already involved with your nonprofit. They may have given a previous gift, volunteered at an event, or introduced their friends to your cause. To identify this individual—and others with the capacity and interest to support your work further—you need to increase donors’ feelings of connection to your nonprofit by building strong relationships with them.

To attract more major gifts this year, plan to focus on holistic engagement with your supporters. Encourage them to invest in your mission beyond your requests for financial donations. Below, we’ll highlight five ideas for providing current and prospective major donors opportunities to get involved with your work in a way that ties their monetary support to a sense of identity with your cause.

Download: Donor Cultivation & Stewardship Plan Template

1. Introduce Major Donors to Program Beneficiaries

It can be impactful to see the physical results of a project or speak with a person who benefited from your nonprofit’s efforts—which are, ultimately, thanks to your major donors’ gifts. Consider in-person ways you can show a donor the impact they’ve had. This experience can encourage them to increase their next donation or make an additional major gift.

For example, if you’re a nonprofit providing after-school enrichment programs, invite a major donor to join one of your classes for a day or tour the new playground you were able to build at your facility. If you’re an environmental nonprofit, take a donor to a stream restoration project you organized and have local residents of that area or project volunteers share what the effort meant to them personally.

As you consider ways to introduce your major donors to program beneficiaries, remember to be sensitive to the needs of your beneficiaries first. They should never feel exploited or like they owe you a favor for the services they received. Ensure their participation is voluntary and ask how you can best support them in sharing their story.

2. Invite Major Donors to a Volunteer Event

Hands-on experiences create lasting memories. In addition to showing major donors how their gifts make a difference through site tours and meetings with beneficiaries, get them directly involved with a project.

Invite them to a litter pick-up event. Have them read stories to children in your after-school program. Ask if they’d like to serve meals at your emergency shelter. 

Volunteer opportunities give current and prospective major donors a chance to work alongside others who are passionate about your cause. This forms a sense of community and identity with your nonprofit that can lead to future financial support.

3. Connect Major Donors to Each Other

Another way to form a sense of identity and belonging with your nonprofit is to introduce major donors to each other. You can create a special “Circle of Givers” where major donors meet quarterly to form community around their giving. As your supporters build new friendships with others who give to your nonprofit, they’ll be encouraged by their peers to keep making donations toward your cause.

Creating a VIP experience for your donors also helps them see that their level of support is special to you and that you value and appreciate it. Treat this high-level supporter group like the investors they are. In addition to socializing at your quarterly meetings, provide updates on your nonprofit’s current projects and goals, as well as any challenges you’ve faced and how you’re working to address those.

4. Add Informal Communications to the Mix

Major donors are likely used to getting the highest quality materials from the nonprofits they support. While it’s important to send glossy, color-printed annual reports and create polished program proposals for major donors, remember to connect with them at a more personal level too.

Based on what you know about your major donors, tailor your communications appropriately. For example, some donors might like informal, quick text message check-ins. Others may enjoy handwritten notes or short emails like those you would send to a friend.

Keep notes in your donor database to learn the communication types that resonate most with your major donors. You may find that some feel a greater sense of connection to your work or interact more with your gift officers through informal methods.

5. Encourage Major Donors to “Bring a Friend”

In addition to cultivating your current and past major donors—or mid-level givers ready to increase their investment—you can attract more major gifts by tapping into these donors’ greater networks.

At one of your quarterly “Circle of Givers” meetings, or at your next nonprofit event, ask major donors to bring a friend or colleague along. Doing this helps major donors feel like they’re helping you out even more by facilitating warm introductions to potential new donors. Showing a friend the cause they’re interested in can also further attach it to their sense of identity.

Finally, allowing a major donor to bring a friend to one of your events creates a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for them. They’re able to enjoy the experience with someone close to them. The positive emotions they associate with this interaction can inspire them to support your work again.

Connect With Major Donors in a Holistic, Personal Way to Attract More Gifts This Year

Growing your major gifts requires growing your relationships. If you have a goal of attracting more major gifts this year, brainstorm ways to connect with your donors in a personal way and provide a range of opportunities for them to interact with your cause.

Instil offers a platform that puts people first. You can use our holistic donor profiles to cultivate and steward personal relationships at scale, giving each supporter the VIP treatment they deserve. Our solution can help you learn more about your major donors, track how your new stewardship strategies resonate with them, and connect you to their wider networks.

Sign up today for a free demo to see how Instil can help grow your major giving program.

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