While it’s inherently true that most people do not like being asked to give money, I have found that the reason why most bristle when the opportunity to invest in a ministry’s Kingdom works is simple, there’s no real relationship.
Many ministry organizations don’t talk to their financial partners at all or the only time they talk with them is when their hands are out, asking for the next donation.
This kind of action is what makes people dislike fundraisers.
Develop a plan, which includes a literal schedule for when and how to talk with your financial partners throughout the year outside of asking for money. This is particularly important if you have major gifts financial partners who like to give at a specific time each year.
Schedule a number of touch points throughout the year where you are updating your financial partners about the work of your ministry. Take time to thank them for their relationship with you. Send them a note from someone whose life has been transformed through your ministry.
Then when it comes time to talk with them about a gift they will be ready to have that conversation with you. With a good development program, by the time you ask a financial partner to join with you in another opportunity to give, you will experience their eager anticipation, rather than reluctant anxiety.
Everybody wants to know that they are valued, especially when they give your ministry a part of their heart, which is what they are doing every time they contribute.
When you do major gifts fundraising you have an opportunity to work 1-on-1 with people about their giving priorities. Make sure to take the time to allow a relationship to grow. Some financial partners will want more of a relationship than others. You will be way more successful growing your major gifts program if you have regular soft touches with your financial partners than if you ask only once a year.
Here are some practical examples of the kinds of touch points that you can use as a great way to build relationships.
- Send a card on your financial partner’s birthday and have everyone on staff, who are within reach, sign it. Staff members who know the financial partner should include a personal sentence or two on the card.
- Make a thank you phone call within a couple of days of receiving their gift.
- Send an update on what your organization has done the year before. This update can be specific to a programmatic or regional area of interest and should include some insider information from a program manager or director.
- Invite them to sit at your table at an annual event.
- Offer them a tour your organization. This is a great way to help someone connect in a deeper way with the work that you are doing.
- Arrange a meeting with the financial partner, one of your program staff members, and yourself to provide an in-person update.
- Send them a handwritten note with a few words about a special interest they have.
- Buy them a cup of coffee and tell them a story of something that happened because of their support.
- ALWAYS- write a handwritten note on EVERY receipt that goes out from the ministry!!! Even after he retired, Garth Hunt, founder of WorldServe Ministries, personally wrote a note on every receipt, which I argue is the only valid excuse to delay getting receipts out the door within 48 hours after they come in!