Prioritizing Your Major Donors at Year-End

Written by Nadine Gabai-Botero

September 21, 2022


As the Year-End countdown clock continues to wind down (do you hear the ticking too, or is that just me?!) fundraisers have a LOT going on. With so much to juggle, how’s your plan to engage and solicit your major donors going?

Major Donors and Your Year End Giving Campaign

Who’s on your list?

To make sure no one gets left behind, always start with your data. Whatever your nonprofit’s major gift level, make sure you’ve got an accurate list of who hasn’t yet given this year, or in recent years (I go back at least 3 years when pulling data). You should also review the list of major donors who have given and consider whether you’re comfortable making another ask before year-end. Perhaps there’s an initiative close to being funded that a major donor would be interested in supporting with an additional gift? Finally, look closely at your mid-level donors from the past few years, to see who may be ready for an ask at a higher level. One your list is set and pulled, review it to determine whom to prioritize, how much you’ll ask for, and what you’ll ask for. While general operating gifts are always great, many major donors may be more likely to give support for a particular aspect of your work. Whether it's a specific advocacy initiative, new program you’re launching, or services that are in high demand, share details that will compel your donor to want to invest.

Have you connected?

Stewardship is one of the most important and underrated aspects of fundraising. Never is this more true than in the last couple of months of the year when we’re all thinking about how much more we wish we’d done to connect with our donors. There is still time to connect AND to learn the lesson for next year. When you see a tickler in March that says “Reach out and invite Belinda to lunch,” don’t ignore it! Right now, take your priority donor list and send emails and make calls to share updates, success or challenge stories, or just check in. Hopefully, that outreach will lead to an easier segue for the ask.

How will you ask?

By October, you should have a clear plan for how and when you’ll ask your major donors for 2022 support. While many major donors will be asked via their personalized direct mail letters that arrive in November, in some cases, you’ll be asking via in-person/Zoom meetings. At times, you may not even be doing the asking. If there is a Board member or another donor who is willing to reach out on your organization’s behalf, pull them into the process soon. These “ask partners” are vital to 1) help you make all the connections you must make in the next 8-10 weeks, and 2) enable someone who has already made a commitment to make the case for why giving to your mission is important now.

What are you waiting for?

I appreciate you reading to the end…but time is ticking away (remember the clock!?). If you spend the next hour focused on your major donors and what you must do to ensure you know who to reach out to, you’ll be on your way.

Good luck and stay in touch! If you have questions about your major donor outreach, please send me a message.

Focus Fundraising provides strategies for mid-level donations, donors, gifts in the Washington DC area and beyond.
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