Moments can be extraordinarily powerful in major donor fundraising. The right, memorable moment can transform a donor’s interest in and understanding of your work. As you plan your donor engagement strategy, think about ways you can create a powerful moment that will stay with them long after your interaction.

You might create a moment of insight by allowing donors to experience the daily challenges your clients face trying to find drinkable water or medical help. Perhaps you can create a connection between donors through a shared volunteer experience. Or a moment of pride by having donors participate in turning over the keys to a new home for a recent graduate of your program.

In your interactions with major donors, be intentional about using the power of unforgettable moments.

These brief encounters could be life-transforming for both the donors and the people you serve.

In their recent book, The Power of Moments, Dan and Chip Heath explore why certain brief experiences create extraordinary moments and teach us how to create them. Most extraordinary moments will contain at least one of four elements:

  • Elevation – experiences that rise above the everyday
  • Insight – moments that deliver realizations and transformations
  • Pride – moments of courage, earned recognition or conquer challenges
  • Connection – a deepened relationship with others

As an example, the authors cite the Magic Castle Hotel, one of the highest rated hotels in Los Angeles. Few hotels have more reviews than the Magic Castle, and none appeared to have as many raving fans. The reviews are fun to read. A poolside hotline to request popsicles that are served on silver platters – and are complimentary. Champagne flutes of Italian soda that appear out of nowhere. While not their official motto, it seems that surprise and delight is the goal.

The Magic Castle Hotel demonstrates how moments can transform a hotel stay from a routine, less than memorable experience to one that guests rave about for a lifetime. What makes the Magic Castle so special? It’s the unexpected moments they create for guests. The staff breaks the script for what guests expect to happen during their stay.

In major donor development, extraordinary moments shouldn’t happen by accident. They should be carefully considered and planned.

At a major donor event for an organization dedicated to repairing and replacing homes in rural America, we created an opportunity for guests to trip over the truth. Each table of donors was asked to review five profiles of families who desperately needed support and determine the one that would receive a refurbished home. Each applicant had a compelling story, and donors agonized over the decision to select a single family. After making the choice, the donors learned the brutal truth – all of the families had applied for support and all of them were rejected because of the organization’s limited resources. The reality was hard to accept, and spurred donors to new levels of support for the organization’s mission.


Insights for Westfall Gold Clients
A Westfall Gold Major Donor Weekend is filled with possibilities to create extraordinary moments. You could introduce a surprise guest, choose a personalized pillow gift or deliver a new insight to attendees during one of the pillar talks. Your Westfall Gold account service team will brainstorm options that will reinforce your message and surprise and delight your guests. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that your event contains memorable moments that drive transformational giving to impact the people and communities you serve.


About Lisa Wolf

Lisa Wolf | VP of Consulting

Lisa is passionate about working with nonprofits that work hard every day to improve the lives of others. From 2005-2013, Lisa held senior leadership positions at CURE International, a medical ministry with hospitals and programs in 29 countries throughout the developing world. At CURE, she was responsible for creating the communications strategy for general, mid-range and major donors, as well as growing the organization’s general donor base through development of an online, radio and direct mail strategy. Lisa was also responsible for planning CURE’s major donor communications strategy and fundraising weekends that have raised more than $12 million.

Connect with Lisa by clicking here.

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