On Second Thought: Move Toward the Next Major Gift Through Stewardship

We owe it to our donors to use their gifts responsibly, in accordance with their wishes. Good stewardship is in our own interest as development professionals. Major donors, in particular, are much more willing to continue their support when they’re given lots of reasons to feel good about their last gift.

Making our donors feel good requires more than a pro forma thank-you letter and a listing in the annual report. We need to keep them involved, and let them know that they’re truly valued and appreciated. In these ways, we can sustain and strengthen the relationships we’ve worked so hard to build.

From the donor’s point of view, there’s nothing more demoralizing than being dropped after making a major gift—one they may have thought about for a long time. How would you feel if you heard nothing from the organization, except for the occasional newsletter, until being asked to give again? The message is painfully clear: “They’re only interested in my money.”

Yes, we need to thank our donors, and recognize them in front of their peers, if possible. We should report back to them how their contributions are being used. It’s also a good idea to update them periodically on the progress of the campaign and/or project they’re supporting.

Major donors should be made to feel so good about their involvement that they naturally think about ways to do more.

For major donors, it’s better to do this in person, or at least over the telephone, than to send an email. Fro example, introducing the donor to the current scholarship recipient is a familiar but very effective method. You’ll be able to think of many other ways to personalize an ongoing dialogue with your major donors.

The whole idea is to keep in touch, and keep reinforcing the donor’s interest and confidence in the organization, without always asking for money. You want your major donors to feel so good about their involvement that they begin, without prodding, to think about ways to do more. Believe it or not, it happens all the time!

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For more on Major Gifts, Developing Strategies for Success, access Goettler Series Volume 9