Marcy's Blog: Meaningful Gifts

Major gifts is such a loaded term. What is major anyway? It’s a threshold set by someone else, usually a fundraiser or a board member based on their idea of a gift or investment that’s big enough to qualify the donor for closer attention or special treatment.

This approach excludes so many donors from the attention and stewardship they deserve. As we’re seeing more and more, there is a wealth of donors in the middle, and too many nonprofits are doing too little for those donors. You can change that.

What if fundraisers stop thinking about major gifts and start thinking about meaningful gifts?

Your donors don’t think of themselves the way fundraisers do. They don’t think about your budgets or your goals, they think about their dreams and their values. When you can connect with their passions, they will give.

Just because a donor made a million-dollar gift to another organization doesn’t mean she’s ready, willing or interested in making one to support your work. That’s okay. She gave a gift today. Honor that gift.

The donor made their gift today based on what your work or cause means to them today. Thank them today for that gift, not the gift you think you deserve, or the gift you hope they'll make next month or next year.

Work to earn the next gift with a well-written, prompt thank you, and thoughtful updates and follow up on your progress.

Their gift today reflects their interest and investment in your success. A donor might make a big stretch to give $100 or $500, and you need to recognize and celebrate their deeper investment.

Whatever their gift, whatever their reason, they’ve chosen to make a gift to support your work.

The gift has meaning to them, and it must have meaning to you (beyond moving you closer to your all-important fundraising goal). If you aren’t ready to thank, recognize, steward and support every donor, then you aren’t ready to fundraise.

We don’t get to choose our donors and we don’t get to choose how much they give. They choose to support the work that we do, the vision that we have and the change that we seek. 

We can only choose what we do once they do give. We can only choose how we thank them, how we use their money, how we listen to them and how we partner with them.

We must support, celebrate and strengthen the relationship we have with our donors every chance we get.