meeting, majot donor, relationshipMany Christian radio broadcasters have found that to accelerate funding to accomplish their God-inspired visions, they need to start a program to identify and attract major donors. In a 2017 study of listener-support radio stations, Advocace found . . .

  • Sixty-four percent (64%) say they have a major donor program.
  • Successful stations (those that have seen gift income increase in the last three years) are more likely than others to see the need for a major donor program.


But anyone who has managed a major donor program for any length of time has discovered it takes time to cultivate relationships with major donors. They want to hear your vision, feel your passion, insure their investment will make an impact, and trust you to do what you say you’ll do.

So, how are radio stations doing in the relationship-cultivation department?

You’re probably thinking, “Uh, can we talk about something else?”

NO, we really need to talk about this!

On average, radio station executives spend about 13% of their time in cultivating relationships with major donors! Yes, you read that right—13%!

You may be right: You probably don’t HAVE time to build relationships with major donors. But successful executives MAKE time for this important task.

Tips for Making Time for Donors

How do they do that? Recently, I talked to some of the most successful major donor fundraisers in Christian ministries. Here are some of their secrets:

  • “Recognize that your major responsibility is external to your station—connecting the station to the community at large and meeting with those who have the resources to fund God’s vision for your station.”
  • “Seek God’s direction for your ministry then write a simple one-page summary of the vision He has given you. Share that vision with every major donor.”
  • “Hire staff to handle air shifts, program the music, engage listeners in projects to help the needy, run out to the transmitter site to fix a problem. Learn to say “No” to those who would pull you into the quick-sand of internal problems.”
  • “Tell your staff to arrange a lunch or dinner every day with someone who can help fund your vision. Block off time in your schedule DAILY for donor cultivation.”
  • “Connect with your major donors regularly. Find out what their needs are and look for ways to serve them. Write notes, send text messages and make phone calls DAILY. Promise to pray for them, then do it. Ask them to introduce you to others who can help fund your ministry.”

Successful major donor programs require discipline, focus and clear priorities.

So, looking at your calendar for the last two months, about what percentage of your time have you spent in major donor cultivation? 10%? 15%? 20%? Or more? We recommend it should be in the 40 – 50% range. But if it’s lower than that, set a goal to increase that amount of time this year—say, by 5%. Then set a goal of increasing it by the same amount next year.

Successful leaders don’t HAVE time to cultivate major donor relationships—they MAKE time to do so.

Major Gift Resources for You

  • Download our latest Listener-Supported Radio Outlook Major Gifts Report—3 Coaching Tips to the Major Leagues of Major Donor Programs. Find it here >>
  • (If you’re going to be at the National Religious Broadcaster’s Proclaim 18 Convention this week, join us for our session— Five Ways Successful Stations Grow Revenue: Key Findings from the Latest Listener-Supported Radio Fundraising Survey!)