People often ask me how I define a major gift. To me, it’s a gift worth the time and money it takes to cultivate and solicit it.
Cultivating and soliciting major gifts is time intensive. It takes time because no two donors are identical, and no two donor relationships are identical. No matter how similar two donors may seem on the surface, their histories, their personalities, and their desires will vary.
This means every major gift donor needs to be uniquely considered.
If you have three major gift donors with whom you want to have coffee, each approach to that coffee will be different. You might email one to propose coffee at her place of work, text one to recommend the Starbucks in his neighborhood, reach out to one via LinkedIn, etc.
And even more important, your voice will be different in each case. For one it might be friendlier while for another it might be more formal. One note might be brief while another is more detailed.
How about thank you notes? Again, each one will have its own nuance. Can you imagine, if you were talking to three donors who all made first-time $5,000 gifts, saying the exact same thing to each of them? Then why would you write the same thing?
This means no copying/pasting anytime – never, ever, no matter what. Let me repeat that – never, ever no matter what.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is! That’s why you need to be strategic about your major gift program. You need to be cultivating and soliciting gifts worth the time and money. It’s the litmus test. You can’t say someone’s a major gift donor and then send her a copied/pasted note. It won’t work. She will hear the disconnect – your “voice” will not sound right.
People often ask me what I attribute my success to. They think I must have these incredible talents during a meeting. Or that I’m really slick at negotiating. But in truth, I think I owe most of my success to treating donors well. Treating them like individuals.
And, yes, that means, no copying and pasting. For 35 years, every piece of correspondence to every donor – every thank you note, every invitation, everything – has been written from scratch. I have never copied and pasted anything. And I hope you won’t either!