Welcome back to the Major Gift Challenge. If you’re new to this video series, you can watch the introductory video here.
That’s an adage that’s probably as old as time itself.
It’s little wonder then that one of the biggest challenges you’re likely to face when raising major gifts is a lack of time.
“I simply don’t have enough time to raise major gifts.” If you haven’t said that, you’ve probably at least thought it.
It’s true — raising major gifts takes a lot of time. We’re 25 videos into the Major Gift Challenge, and we’re not done yet. We’ve already spent a lot of time, and we’re just getting to the Time Challenge of raising major gifts.
Let’s take one moment and think about time priorities.
It takes just as much time to plan a worthwhile event or write grants as it does to work on major gifts. The process of developing a major gift donor carries with it the likelihood of additional gifts.
These other efforts are one time possibilities, so multiply the time by the number of giving opportunities you want when you calculate the time they take.
Consistency is Key to Raising Major Gifts
Let’s also put time into perspective.
If you’ve been following along with the Major Gifts Challenge from the start, you know that it isn’t about spending a ton of time to raise major gifts — it’s about being consistent.
Whether you spend one hour per week or five or ten, raising major gifts for your cause is about staying the course.
So what’s the one thing you will do every time, whether that’s daily or weekly, to move the needle?
3 Ways to Be Consistent About Raising Major Gifts
Here are three suggestions to maximize your consistency.
1. Make three calls per day.
Raising major gifts means being in touch with donors. That’s hard to do if you don’t pick up the phone.
Make a commitment to call three donors every working day — first thing in the morning or right before lunch. If you wait until the end of the day, you simply won’t get to it.
Not sure who to call?
Recent Donors – Start by calling everyone who donated to your organization that week. A thank you call is the simplest, yet most effective type of call. Be sure to leave messages … these recent donors could turn into major donors.
Donors to Meet – After thank you calls, call those donors you’d like to meet. If you’re meeting them for the first time, tell them you’re on a “listening tour” to get feedback from donors. Offer to meet them for 20 minutes at their home or office, at their convenience.
Donors to Volunteer – Finally, if you’ve exhausted your donor list and those you’d like to schedule meetings with, call people to invite them on a tour or to volunteer.
Remember, people who are engaged are more likely to give.
Once you’ve completed those calls, you can also ask people to join your monthly giving program. Call all donors of $100 or less and invite them to donate $10 or more per month.
2. Do one task per week.
In addition to your three calls per day, identify one task per week which will move the needle on raising major gifts. That’s what the Major Gifts Challenge is all about. Doing a little bit each and every week.
If you’re not sure what to do, go back to the beginning of the Major Gifts Challenge. It can be anything from identifying donors, to creating cultivation plans, to meeting with donors, to preparing for soliciting, or even writing thank you notes.
The Challenge exists on my website as a permanent reference for you to use when you’re stuck. So review and take advantage of it!
3. Hold yourself accountable.
It’s hard to stay on track when you have grant deadlines and impending events. So here’s a great little trick – treat raising major gifts as the emergency for a change.
It’s hard to keep major gifts a priority because there are no deadlines. So you need to be disciplined enough to create them for yourself. Otherwise, it’s too easy to put major gifts on the back burner while you get through your next event or big grant deadline.
Make staying on track with major gifts a major part of your performance review. Develop benchmarks and metrics to track your progress and success.
Weekly accountability meetings work! A great way to do this is to hold a major gifts accountability meeting every week. And it’s easy because the agenda items — and there are only two — always stay the same:
- What did we do last week to raise major gifts? What follow up needs to be done?
- What will we do this week (or next week) to raise major gifts, and who is responsible?
This meeting should include any development staff, the executive director, the administrative staff, and board members. Remember, everyone is responsible for fundraising.
Challenge Yourself Action Item
Step 1: Commit to one task each week.
Just one, that’s all. Then utilize an accountability technique, whether it’s an internal meeting or a phone call with an accountability partner, to make sure you stay committed to your weekly task.
Step 2: Join my Major Gifts for Nonprofits Facebook Page.
Click here to join my Major Gifts for Nonprofits Facebook group and “report in” every week about what you’ve done or what you will do to raise major gifts. This group provides an excellent public accountability tool for you, and it’s totally free!
Going Further with Major Gifts
For more tips and tricks to best manage your time and stay on track with raising major gifts, take my online course, Mastering Major Gifts. In this 7-week course, you’ll be introduced to a number of time management tools and accountability techniques to help you continue raising major gifts all year long.
Act, Comment and Participate
Now it’s your turn to share your progress with the Major Gifts Challenge. Are you able to manage your time and stay on track with raising major gifts? If so, how?
Let me know what’s working for you in the comments.