8 Things to Remember When Creating a Major Gifts CampaignMany nonprofits still rely heavily on collecting major gifts to reach their fundraising goals. Major gifts are a great way for many to take care of big chunks of their budget in one (or several) fell swoops. A single major gift could fund an entire program, a few staff salaries, and give your organization stability and certainty. Sounds good right? However, a successful major gift campaign requires a strategic approach to prospect nurturing and engagement. You need to build a strong relationship with your prospects over a long period of time before, ultimately, making the ask for a major gift if you want them to give. This kind of approach requires you to play the long game, with incredible amounts of focus and planning needed to meet your goals. But fear not! Read on, and become a master in the art of major gifts.
Establish Goals and ObjectivesEstablishing objectives for your campaign is hugely important as they will guide all communications and outreach, and will serve as a baseline for measuring your success. When setting them, remember to make them SMART, as in: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Target Prospect ListIf you want all that planning and effort to count, you’ll want to focus it in the right places. Your prospects for a major gifts campaign aren’t going to be part of the general public – instead, identify people with the inclination and means to help you out. The next step is a description for each of your targets. You should create a profile of each target, complete with a picture. You’ll need to know these people better than your best friend. Here are some questions to ask yourself about each persona:
- What are the demographics of this person? (Age, education, location, etc.)
- What goals might this person have?
- What are their biggest challenges and how do they work to overcome them
- How does this person find, consume, and share content?
- What sort of views and concerns do they have?
Craft Key MessagingDeciding on a single, focused message that you want to convey is crucial to campaign success. Variations on the main message (or “sub messages”) should also be developed in order to communicate in different ways. Having clear understanding of your prospects and their motivators will guide your campaign in the right direction from the outset, allowing you to use your testing to fine tune rather than radically transform your message. The most important thing to remember is that messaging should be re-evaluated throughout your campaign for effectiveness. For major gifts especially, your approach and presentation to each prospect should be defined and refined in order to better prepare you for your next ask. Of course with a small list of prospects, A/B testing and the like can be difficult. Make sure to conduct post mortems on failed pitches, and analyses on successful asks. The more you learn, the more success you’ll have.
Recognize MotivatorsYou need to understand the key motivators that get your prospects to take action. What do they care about and how can you align your campaign goals to these motivators? Make sure to revisit your personas, as having a clear picture of them in your mind will make understanding their motivations and crafting appropriate messaging that much clearer.
Create Inspiring Calls-to-ActionSo, now that you’ve got information about your campaign out there, what do you want your prospects to do with it? Specific calls-to-action should be developed, or key actions that you’d like potential donors to take, like:
- Donating to your campaign
- Signing a petition
- Learning more about your campaign
- Signing up for updates