So many non-profits are much more comfortable asking for a $100 gift but uncomfortable when you add a few more 0’s and ask for a more significant contribution like $10,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000. One of my colleagues told me two great pieces of advice.

  1. You are asking for a meaningful gift. If you have properly qualified the person, the amount has a proportionate meaning for the donor. If they give you $100,000, it is the same proportion of their assets as a $100 gift for a recent grad in an entry-level job. 
  2. Zero is worth nothing. 000 has no value. Adding it to a number should not impact you. 

If you are preparing to ask a donor for a larger than usual gift, cultivating the donor is key to a successful ask. Here are some tips for you to launch into major gifts. 

Tip 1: Ask the donor what they are interested in. Are they passionate about education, healthcare, basic needs, or equity? If you cannot see how your mission fits into their personal mission, suggest an organization that addresses their passions. They will remember you.

Tip 2: Treat the donor as a person, not a checkbook. Enough said!

Tip 3: Always send a thank-you note after your initial meeting. Not a form thank you letter but a personal handwritten note. Better yet, mention one of the topics you discussed in the thank you note.

Tip 4: Follow up! Here are two ideas on how to follow up:

If they articulated that they are interested in scholarships during the exploratory meeting, set up an appointment with the potential donor and a student currently receiving a scholarship from your organization. This is an excellent way for them to visualize how they can impact someone’s life.

Send them an article about something that is happening in your organization. Ask them for an appointment to discuss the topic with you.

Tip 5: Invite them to make a gift to your organization. Most donors will wait for you to ask them for a gift. This is where many fundraisers get stuck. They never get to the formal invite. Remember, you are asking them to invest in your mission. It is a privilege to help someone out. You ask them to help someone receive healthcare, educate someone, or offer assistance during a tough time.

Tip 6: Celebrate their gift! If they have stretched and made a major gift to you, take a moment to make it memorable for both the organization and the donor. Invite them to a private event where they see the impact, take them out to lunch, celebrate their generosity, or do anything else that would be meaningful to them.  

Tip 7: Thank them over and over again. No matter what the answer is to the invitation, always write a personal thank you note. It will keep the conversation flowing!