I like you. You like me.
Will you be my major donor? (Check yes or no)
By David Workman
Ministries often ask us, “How can I attract more mid-level and major donors?”
One way is to upgrade your existing donors into your mid/major program. Donors with mid-level and major capacity likely already exist on your file.
They like you — you’ve been friends for a while — they connect with your God-given vision and the eternal ministry impact you’re making, together, on hearts and lives.
You just need to ask them to take the next step in your relationship. But how?
- Find a unique project to use for an upgrade fundraising campaign.
- This can be anything ministry-related but should be of substantial cost ($100,000+ or so, depending on the size of your organization). Expansions, new opportunities, and current or upcoming large-scale projects are great options for inspiring your donors to play an even more significant role in what God is doing through your work together.
- Make sure your messaging surrounds the ministry impact. Your donors don’t care about your building, your new area of expansion, or your new broadcast equipment. They care about what those things will do in terms of your efforts for the Kingdom.Frankly, presenting the opportunity from an eternal perspective is your ministry back to your donors — helping them feel the joy and satisfaction of giving and to receive the blessing of releasing their resources back to God to accomplish His purposes.
- Target donors with a lifetime largest gift of $500 and have given you any gift in the last 12 months. Since most organizations view their $1,000+ givers as the entry into a mid/major program, the $500 group is a prime target for upgrade. Remember: They already like you! Many are ready and willing to take the next step.
- Go to this group and ask them for that $1,000 gift. Consider a specially formatted proposal that outlines your project with the donor’s name personalized. Recognize that their past support and involvement led you to bring this proposal to them.
- Send it in upgraded packaging, mailed first class, with a high-end and personal feel. Handwrite the name and address on the front of the envelope (or use genuine pen/machine-held pen technology). Or even get creative with the packaging altogether — to help it stand out in the mail and your donors’ minds — like we did with our successful “Water Bottle” Mailing for Cru’s Campus ministry!
- Consider a high-end or exclusive premium such as a signed book or desk accessory. Just make sure the item fits with the theme and goals of the project.
- Follow the proposal with a phone call — ideally from current mid-level reps.
For one ministry, BBS & Associates began inviting the $500 donors to join the major donor program with a $1,000 gift two times a year. After three years, the major donor fundraising program grew 15% per year in active donors, and 80% in annual income!
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask. You may get turned down by some, but others are ready and waiting to say yes, but only giving at the level you’ve asked them to. With the right project and approach, there’s likely a wealth of major donors hiding in your current file — you just need to ask.