There’s no denying that every little bit helps your nonprofit fundraising. A $20 donation may not seem substantial, but when it’s combined with fifty gifts of similar amounts, that $20 packs a punch. But finding fifty or even a hundred donors during a campaign takes work. So, how do you streamline your donor recruitment efforts and boost your bottom line at the same time? One option is to identify and recruit major donors.
Benefits of Identifying Major Donors
Maintaining a pool of major donors at your organization is a good idea, regardless of how much they’re required to give. Here are two of the biggest benefits of identifying major donors.
The first benefit, and possibly the most obvious one, is that major donors give more. Naturally, you need to recruit fewer donors to bring in the same amount. For example, if your average donation is $150 and your major donor threshold is $1,000, then you need to recruit one major donor compared to 6.6 average donors. That means less work for you in the long-run.
Besides the added income, major donors are also more likely to be retained from one campaign to the next. In fact, there is a direct correlation between giving amounts and retention. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, 47% of donors who give $250 or more are retained, compared to 18% of donors giving less than $250. Since a retained donor is more affordable for you than a new donor, your organization may actually save money by recruiting a few major donors.
Determining Giving Thresholds
Before you start a major giving program and begin recruiting members, figure out what amount constitutes a major gift.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all amount when it comes to major giving thresholds, there are common amounts that nonprofits in Canada use to shape major giving programs, including $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000.
If these amounts don’t sound manageable for your donor base, try dropping that number to $500 or less.
Younger donors are often interested in major giving but are strapped for cash because they’re just starting their careers or families. If this sounds like your donor population, consider incorporating a ladder that gradually works donors from point A to point B. For example, a donor can give $500 in year one, $750 in year two, and $1,000 in year three, but be considered a major donor beginning in year one.
Analyzing the Data
Identifying major donors isn’t possible without data. Hopefully, you use a spreadsheet or donor management system to track donor information. Go ahead and take the most relevant donor data from your tracking system to look for current donors who may be interested in becoming major donors.
Some key data includes:
- Donors who give slightly less than your major giving threshold
- Long-time donors
- Recurring or monthly donors
Armed with this data, create a running list of prospective major donors, starting with those you believe are most likely to give. Write down the donor’s name, family information (if known), notes on employment, current donation amount, and other philanthropic interests. Keep the list ranked in order from highest to lowest likelihood and work through it accordingly.
Over time, continue to track all possible donor data and regularly data mine to broaden your list of major donor prospects.
Finding Other Prospects
Besides looking at your current donor base, you can also find prospects from within your nonprofit family and elsewhere in your community.
For starters, assign a staff member to media-duty. It’s this person’s job to scour the daily newspaper, social media, and local business magazines and note any new business, job promotions, etc. Your city’s chamber of commerce website is also a great source of business-related information. Remember, even a small change in job title could indicate that person may have the resources to become a major donor.
Real estate transactions are another surprisingly effective place to find prospects. As people buy and sell homes in your community, track who is involved in those transactions and do further research from there. In most cases, a quick online name search can provide you with enough information to determine if that new homebuyer has an affinity for what you do, as well as the resources to back you up.
Keep in mind, prospects aren’t just the high-income earners in your community. Friends of your nonprofit, such as long-serving board members, volunteers, and former employees have all proven they’re passionate about your cause and are also great prospects.
Converting Prospects to Major Donors Through Moves Management
Your prospect list is full of helpful data, but how do you convert these prospects into major donors? Truth be told, it takes more than research to get the job done. To keep the process organized, try using a moves management model.
Moves management, which is essentially a prospect-to-donor spectrum, begins with establishing the relationship, and finishes with the actual ask.
Education is usually the first step. While you’re providing your prospect with client stories and statistics that help them to understand the problem and how your nonprofit is solving it, you should also be learning about your prospect. After all, it’s a mutual relationship.
Build the relationship through strategic engagement opportunities. Then, when it comes time to make the ask, be direct about the amount you want and what benefits they’ll receive as a major donor. Your relationship with major donors is built on a foundation, so continue to treat them as special as they are even after they are retained.
Your nonprofit can strategically identify prospective major donors and then convert them into major donors using moves management. In the end, your nonprofit will benefit from increased giving and a tight-knit community of givers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.