Major Donor Relationships: How to make a perfect match?

9th June 2018

I once read that ‘major donor relationships are like marriages’ –  so, when they are founded on mutual respect and support, they can grow stronger over time.

I believe this is true and I think the first step towards building a lasting relationship between a charity and a new major donor is knowing how to make a perfect match.

So, where do you start if you are looking for new major donors? 

Well, you start by discovering the single most important ingredient of a perfect match between a charity and a new major donor – which is having something in common.

In other words, making a perfect match means identifying a potential major donor’s interests and and determining whether or not they fit with your charity’s mission.

Inexperienced fundraisers think that they can approach any wealthy person they know and ask them to donate. In reality, a few of them might, simply because they like the person who is doing the asking. But, the majority of them will not, simply because the charity’s cause is not close to their heart.

The second step in making a perfect match between a charity and a potential major donor is asking them two important questions: ‘What are they interested in?’ (their passions) and ‘Why are they interested in this or that?’ (motivations).

When you ask these questions you are giving them opportunities to share with you the things that really matter to them and the motivating factors that drive their charitable giving.

In a nutshell, this is how you can get to know potential major donors. And, through these conversations you can help them understand that your charity can serve as a catalyst for enabling them to fulfill their interests and passions.

Here are a few things you can do to identify and better understand your current major donor’s interests and passions.

  1. Arrange a time to have an informal meeting with a potential major donor. Explain to them when you arrange the meeting that the purpose of this meeting is to get to know them and to give them a chance to find out more about your charity.
  2. Get ready for the meeting. Prepare a simple document that maps out your charity’s mission, as well as, all key programmes and initiatives.  Make a simple list of 15 or more items with short explanations and a few stories to illustrate the need and the impact your charity is making.
  3. During the meeting encourage the potential major donor to share what they are interested in and what they want to achieve through their giving. Assure them that you are interested in understanding what drives their giving and in finding out how your charity could help them (the donor) to fulfill their interests and passions.
  4. Then, share with them about key areas of your charity’s mission and the key programmes and initiatives. Ask them ‘ Are there any aspects of your charity’s mission that might be more important to them than others?’  ‘Does any of the key programmes or initiatives interests them more than others?
  5. If they shows interest in one of the programmes or initiatives ask for their permission to send them more information  and follow up with them as appropriate with a second meeting and more conversations where you can explore in more depth why they are interested in that programme or initiative.

But, remember what I said at the beginning of this post  –  good major donor relationships are like good marriages.  And, good marriages are build on trust and integrity from both parties.

So, before you take any of the steps I am suggesting here take a moment to examine your motives and intentions.

Are your motives and intentions pure? Do you sincerely and with integrity want to help a potential major donor fulfill their interests and passions?

If you answered yes to both these questions then you will succeed.

I hope you found this blog post beneficial and if you want to learn more on how to succeed in major donor fundraising look out for my next post on ‘How To Decide the Major Gift Levels for Your Charity