Plan the work, then work your plan.
Your plan should outline the organizations goals for major gift fundraising and its role in your overall development program. Your plan should create a general strategy of opportunities for engaging the donor with the organization, but most importantly, your plan should include hundreds of individual plans with deadlines for cultivating each individual relationship.
If you build the relationship, the money will follow… if your contact with donors is only about money it will not succeed. Remember, your major gift program consists of hundreds of individual donor plans.
Yes, your program goals may be fairly obvious. Maybe you want to increase the number of major donors by 10% this year and increase overall giving by this group by 25%. What is not obvious is the work required to accomplish such tasks. Remember, major gift development is not something that is done with mass marketing techniques. Building real relationships with donors will not happen on Facebook or by email or by direct mail letter. Friendships are built only one way. They happen one-on-one, face to face.
In order to grow your major gift program it comes down to one message, “all hands on deck!” The only way to expand your major gift program is to put more people on the job. I am not saying that you need to hire a large major gift staff, although in some cases that may be the right thing to do. Every organization needs to look a their development team, senior staff, board of directors, key volunteers and major donors in order to determine who has the skills cultivate relationships and ask for support from others.
The question that your organization has to determine is “how many meetings can we do?” How many individual meetings can you do a year, a month or each business day?
The 50-10-3 Rule. Remember, too, that you have to account for the time it takes to reach the donor by phone, mail or email in order to schedule a meeting. While this is a very broad generalization, I have always planned on talking to 10 people in order to schedule 2 to 3 visits. The real question then is what does it take to actually talk to ten people. In today’s market, dialing the phone over 50 times and leave about 20 voice mail messages is not unprecedented. Twenty voice mails (to 20 households) will result in reaching about half of them. If you talk to 10 people, only three will likely be able to meet the following week.
That’s right 50 phone calls in order to talk to 10 and meet with 3. It takes a lot of work. If you are like most not for profit executives you will now click back to your Facebook page and go back to your normal routine. However, if you are ready to roll up your sleeves and go to work… pick up the phone and start pounding out those phone calls. Don’t forget the 50-10-3 rule.