Every major donor is different.
Every individual deserves a different cultivation strategy.
With that said, all major individual donors tend to fit within certain patterns and profiles.
Here is what I know about major donors:
- Financially competent. They have a large net worth and sufficient disposable income. In the nonprofit world we always refer to them as “high wealth” for whatever reason. Either way, they have major money to give. And they don’t have many family commitments tying them down, such as young children or dependents.
- Willing to give. They have been making annual gifts to your organization over a period of time. It is very rare for a nonprofit to receive a major gift from an individual for the first gift. When this does happen, it is often a result of positive media. Perhaps you were on TV or in a favorable magazine profile. But for the most part, your major donors are those that have been making consistent annual gifts over some time.
- Interest in your mission. Major donors will already have shown interest in your organization. They should believe strongly in the work you do. They have attended events or activities you have organized in the past. They have volunteered to work with your group. Volunteers are the best targets for major gifts. Even more importantly, board members are the best targets. In fact, if you don’t have any board members making major gifts, then chances are that you’ve never received a major gift.
Individuals give emotionally, not cerebrally. They do not give to needs – they give to dreams and visions and “what could be.” Don’t waste your time with paper – no brochures or campaign material, or financial statistics. That is boring. Save it for the Foundations.
Individuals respond to passion. To inspiration. They want to be inspired. They are giving their hard earned money to your organization, and in return you are giving them a sense of fulfillment, a sense of joy. Your organization (and you in turn) as a source point for inspiration.