5 Steps to Major Donor Cultivation

As a fundraiser, it’s important that you recognize that your donors fuel your mission and you want to appreciate the donors you have, acquire new ones, convert prospects and help existing donors increase their impact on your organization. Many organizations do this through a major gifts program.

Your donor management software, like ResultsPlus, can help you in your efforts to cultivate a program. Here’s how:

  1. Rate prospects: Assign a dollar amount to each of your existing major donor prospects. This helps you group them based on capacity and commitment to your organization. It also sets clear ask amounts for your staff. Your donor database will allow you to do this by allowing you to quickly identify donors who have given the most, and who have given the most consistently, in the past. You can use these prospects to make lists of your major donor prospects.
  2. Research: You can’t identify your major donor prospects unless you do your research first. If you already have a good idea of who these prospects are, you may still want to research their interests, including the reasons why they have been involved with your organization and if they are connected to other people in your database. Doing this research will help you better develop your relationship with them.
  3. Involve others: Fundraising isn’t a solo mission – you need a strong, dedicated and diverse team behind you to help you meet your fundraising goals. These people can include volunteers, board members, consultants and either other software program providers. You can use your donor database to track peoples’ involvement in your organization.
  4. Assign a manager: To alleviate some of the stress, it’s recommended that you assign a staff account manager to each major donor prospect. This will help you maintain a smooth cultivation of the prospect and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. This person will be responsible for the overall development of the relationship. Helpful hint: Your donor database allows you to assign an account manager to each of your prospects, which makes reporting, filtering, scheduling and querying so much easier!
  5. Plan ahead: It’s so important to remember that cultivating a major gift happens on the prospect’s time, not yours. We recommend that you stick with your organization’s recommended processes, but also be flexible. This doesn’t mean that you should let your cultivation efforts fall by the wayside, however. Make sure to keep up with your cultivation strategy by tentatively scheduling emails, calls and visits to plan ahead for when the prospect will be ready to support your major gifts fundraising efforts. Your donor management system offers full-featured contact and appointment tracking so you can keep track of your donor communications.

Cultivating major donors is a delicate process, but with the help of a donor database and a well-laid plan, you can organize a successful major gifts program at your organization.