thankQ Resources

Mastering Major Donor Relationships

You get out what you put in. The old maxim fits many aspects of fundraising, but perhaps rings most true when it comes to major donors. If you want someone to make a substantial commitment to your organization, you’ll need to invest some time and effort in that relationship.

Understand major donors’ motivations

People will always have different reasons for supporting a nonprofit organization or cause—from the highly personal and emotional motivations to the practical and financial ones. That’s why you should never jump straight in with an ask for money. Learn everything you can about your major donors first, so you understand what drives and inspires them. Use this information to build your relationship slowly and steadily.

Be aware of risks

When you’re doing your initial research, check for any potential conflicts of interest or issues you need to be aware of. For example, hospital and healthcare foundations may not want to build relationships with major donors connected to the tobacco industry. Assess risks straight away—you don’t want any surprises further down the line.

Prepare a personalized case for support

Use what you know about your donor, and the level of giving you’re anticipating, to show them what their money can do. Present it as an investment in the local community, a better society, groundbreaking research, or whatever fits best with your work and their motivation. You’ll need to include compelling impact statistics, as well as inspiring stories about people you’ve supported.

Keep donors involved

Don’t only contact them when you want something. Donors will need a sense of ownership and connection with your work. Keep them informed of your plans, goals, and challenges. Ask for their opinions and insights. Invite them to attend events and annual meetings. Arrange meetings with your CEO and trustees if possible. They may want to meet someone who’s benefitted from your services. Could they visit a project or service with you?

Don’t disappear once you’ve received a donation

Schedule regular follow-ups and thank yous. Be aware of anyone else in your organization who might be communicating with your major donors, so you don’t double up or over contact them. Track every call, email, and meeting in your CRM and include details you can refer to. Show people you’ve really listened and remembered each interaction and its outcome. When you demonstrate that you’re invested in the relationship, they’re more likely to stay invested too.

Want to see how thankQ CRM can help you strengthen your donor relationships with its powerful, yet easy-to-use donor management tools? Contact us to set up your personalized demo.