Cultivation & Stewardship

Leveraging Events for Major Gift Stewardship

Events offer a unique opportunity to cultivate major donor relationships, through meaningful interactions and tangible demonstration of impact.

For nonprofit Major Gifts Officers, keeping your donor stewardship tactics fresh and interesting to donors is critical. Galas, luncheons, golf tournaments, and other events can offer a unique opportunity to not only interact face-to-face with the prospects in your portfolio, but to introduce them to new perspectives on your organization’s work. Whether you are planning the event specifically for major donors, or integrating an existing event into your stewardship strategy, you have a unique opportunity to engage and cultivate these crucial relationships, providing a platform for meaningful interactions and showcasing the impact of donor contributions.

Download: Donor Cultivation & Stewardship Plan Template

Preparation: Integrate A Focus On Donor Stewardship Into Your Event Plan

To make the most of fundraising events, it is essential to set clear goals and objectives beyond the main event fundraising goal. How many major gifts prospects do you want to have in attendance, and how should they be engaged? Identify key donors for engagement and make personalized plans for how they should be engaged at the event. Who should talk to them throughout the night? Where should they sit and who should they sit with? Once you’re ready to invite them, a personalized invitation can create a sense of exclusivity. Personalized invitations and communications can create a sense of exclusivity, while providing unique access and experiences can deepen donor engagement. Showcasing success stories and the tangible impact of their contributions can further reinforce the value of their support.

Execution: Integrating Donor Stewardship To Your Event

During fundraising events, major gifts officers should focus on taking advantage of the opportunity to have meaningful interactions and cultivate holistic relationships with donors. This can look like approaching donors for one-on-one conversations, but it may also look like connecting donors with other representatives of the organization, such as board members, program staff or participants, or even other donors, who they might have fewer opportunities to interact with on a regular basis. Events provide unique opportunities to demonstrate the impact of donors’ giving and create a sense of community among your supporters.

The small details of events also go a long way toward making donors feel appreciated. Make sure that you’ve set up a smooth check-in process that allows each donor and their party to be greeted immediately. Work with the event team to flag dietary restrictions, accessibility concerns for navigating the event venue, accurate printing of special characters on nametags or place cards, and other opportunities to show donors that you have thought about their needs and the quality of their experience. If you intend to connect your prospects to other staff or board members during the event, make sure to prepare those people ahead of time with background information on your donors. A mobile-friendly donor management tool like Instil will make it easy for them to quickly refresh their memory before striking up a conversation, but if you’re using an older platform, index cards with key facts will also work!

Post-Event: Follow-Up and Relationship Building

Following an event, it is crucial to send personalized thank-you notes and updates to express appreciation. Successfully executed events will leave donors feeling energized and inspired, and a good follow-up can prolong those feelings and provide donors with constructive next steps to channel that energy into. Scheduling one-on-one meetings or calls can provide an opportunity for deeper engagement and relationship building, and continued communication through targeted messages can help maintain donor interest and involvement long beyond the event date.


Leveraging events for major donor stewardship offers a valuable opportunity for major gifts officers to strengthen relationships with major donors. By implementing the tips outlined in this blog post - from planning engaging events to post-event follow-up - major gifts officers can enhance donor retention, foster ongoing support, and ultimately drive greater impact through sustained partnerships.

Cultivate transformative relationships with a platform designed for major gifts (See More)


Similar posts