Major Gifts

Tips for Major Donor Outreach That Stands Out at Year-End

With so many organizations vying for donors' attention, it can be challenging to stand out at year-end, but it's not impossible.

As the year comes to a close, major gifts officers across the country are working hard to achieve their organization's annual fundraising goals. With so many organizations vying for donors' attention, it can be challenging to stand out. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for major donor outreach that makes an impact at year-end.

Download: Your must-have year-end checklists (2 in 1!)

1. Review Your Interaction History

Before you reach out to your donors, review your previous communications with them, both over the course of this year and from previous years. Evaluate what type of communication is most effective, how they like to be reached out to, and what they find most inspiring. Use a review of your relationship history to determine how to contact the donor in a way that speaks to their interests while also feeling fresh and exciting.

2. Personalize Your Emails

We all know how often emails get deleted without even being read as we clean out our inboxes each day. To avoid this fate, make it clear from the subject line to the postscript that your email is a personal appeal directly to the donor. Personal, one-on-one emails stand out even in a crowded inbox and increase the likelihood of engagement.

3. Explain Why Them, Why Now

While many nonprofits are likely telling your donor why they need support right now, few are able to effectively communicate why they are seeking partnership from this specific donor. Why does this donor matter to you? Maybe you know they have a unique connection to or knowledge of your mission, maybe their identity or experience brings a unique perspective to your work, whatever the reason, make sure that your donor knows you're approaching them for a reason.

4. Show Them Their Impact

Year-end impact reports can be a powerful tool, but without personalization they may not truly connect with your donor. Take some time before year-end outreach to craft a story of how your organization has stewarded the donor's previous gift(s), and the impact that they have directly contributed to. And remember, while numbers and statistics can be helpful, sharing personal, human narratives is almost always more impactful. 

5. Offer Holistic Opportunities For Engagement

Another way to stand out with major donor outreach is to offer multiple engagement opportunities. Donors may have different preferences for how they want to engage with your organization, so it is essential to offer a variety of options. Consider offering volunteer opportunities, exclusive events, or personalized impact reports. By offering multiple engagement opportunities, you can build stronger relationships with your major donors and increase their commitment to your organization.

6. Make Thank-You Calls

Thank-you calls can be a simple but effective way to stand out with major donor outreach. By making a personal phone call to thank major donors for their support, you can demonstrate your appreciation and build stronger relationships. Thank-you calls can also provide an opportunity to ask for feedback and learn more about donors' interests and preferences.

7. Embrace "Less is More"

When it comes to major donor outreach, less can be more. Don't overwhelm donors with a flood of communications at year-end. Instead, opt for concise, persuasive, relational touchpoints in varied formats that are relevant and meaningful to the donor. Consider handwritten notes, small gifts, recorded videos, and short, personalized impact reports. 


Standing out with major donor outreach at year-end can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can stand out even during the busiest time of year. Standing out is easy with the right tools to inform your outreach - check out the Instil platform if you're ready to supercharge your cultivation and stewardship efforts!

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