Securing a mega gift is an exciting moment for any nonprofit organization. The gift reflects many hours invested by the organization's leadership and relationship managers to carefully cultivate the relationship by building trust and communicating the case for support.
But, your work does not stop when the gift is won.
Several years ago, the president of a nonprofit called me for advice about a donor who made one of the largest commitments the organization had ever received. The president said that, after a few months, the individual began expressing "donor's remorse" and indicated he was considering withdrawing the commitment.
When I asked about the level of engagement the president had with the donor before the gift, he described in detail numerous personal touchpoints with the giver. Then I asked how the president engaged with the giver in the months after the commitment. He struggled to come up with any examples. The president abruptly thanked me for the call and hung up.
Spend as much time investing in a donor relationship after the gift, as before it.
Another issue to consider is how to talk with other major donors after receiving a mega gift. The Chronicle of Philanthropy does a great job of explaining different approaches in: How Charities Talk to Donors After Getting a Huge Gift.
In similar situations, I've advised clients to:
- Focus on the organization's larger vision and overall funding need. Highlight unfunded projects in the investment portfolio.
- Personalize the impact of the donor's gift. We refer to this as the transformational case -- a compelling description of how the donor's gift impacts the life of another.
At the end of the day, major donor development is all about building and maintaining a long-term relationship of trust with your supporters.
- Notre Dame: Lessons in Major Donor Engagement - July 23, 2019
- Engaging Donors After a Mega Gift - May 20, 2019
- Insights into High Net Worth Philanthropy - February 8, 2019
- Donating Wisely: Charity Done Right - November 7, 2018
- Why Informed Givers are Bigger Givers - January 18, 2018
- The Case for Support: Moving Donors from Project Funders to True Partners - January 18, 2017