Major gifts work doesn’t take a vacation when we do. Although many donors are out of town, at the beach or enjoying family and leisure during the summer, many are actually more available to meet with us than at other times of the year. Additionally, this time of year affords major gift officers the opportunity to reassess and plan for the busy third and fourth quarter. Here are six strategies you can use to have success with major gifts this summer:
1. Review Your List
Even if you recently pared down your list to focus on the most active donors, you can still spend some time this summer reviewing and updating your list and donor engagement strategy. Here are some ways to analyze your portfolio of donors and take advantage of this time of year:
- Who is giving now that did not give during the first half of last year?
- Who is not giving now that did give during the first half of last year? (see Reorder Priorities section below)
- Who reduced/increased giving over last/prior years?
- Are there donors who have moved on from your organization or, who have left the area or, sadly, passed away?
- Who has suddenly been unavailable to meet or not returned repeated calls/emails?
- Is the contact information up to date and complete? Can you enhance it through a little research?
2. Measure Progress Toward Goals
Many major gift officers hide or obscure their performance. Be honest with yourself and your organization. Where are you in relationship to your goal, here at the midyear point? If you are behind, ask why and what steps you can take or what help you need to get back on track. You can only get to that point, though, with an honest assessment.
3. Re-order Priorities
As you review your list of major donors and what they have given when, consider how this information may impact your priorities. You may need to move donors up or down on your priority list, depending on engagement results or giving patterns.
4. Express Gratitude
Donors often can spend more time opening mail and reading during the summer. What information can you put in their hands to help them feel better connected and appreciated? It may be a small gift, or a thank you note totally un-related to giving. Just let them know that this summer, you are thinking about them and praying for them. Your sincere gratitude may be better received during the summer because donors have time to focus on it. And they might really like that your note, card or gift is so unexpected.
5. Include Major Donors in Your Work
If your organization is planning a big summer event or you do something special every summer that highlights your mission—please include some of your major donors on your invite list. This can help them peek behind the curtain to see you at work on your mission, which they love enough to support.
6. Plan for Fall
About 75% of philanthropic giving occurs in the third and fourth quarters of the calendar year. Summertime gives you a rare opportunity to prepare. Note who will have to give again this year for you to make this fall’s goals. Identify those donors and decide now what your cultivation strategy should be to reach them. Also start now putting dates on the calendar for planning meetings, visit days and trips out of town to visit loyal donors.
There are many other ways to make the most of summertime’s golden opportunities. The point is not to “stay busy,” but to capitalize on this time of year and be good stewards of our time. Nevertheless, as “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” author, the late Stephen Covey says, “take the time to sharpen the saw” this summer. Rest and reflection are the #1 way to have success with major gifts moving forward.