A Fun Way to Increase Major Gifts

Be tenacious with activity tracking! (photo: david shankbone)

Be tenacious with activity tracking!
(photo: david shankbone)

No, I have not been drinking gin. Major gifts can be fun if you remember one rule: Activity Drives Dollars!

We are all familiar with the highs and lows of asking for and receiving big gifts – they are notoriously hard to track over a standard fiscal year. That’s why smart managers look at major gifts revenue over two- or three-year time frames. Otherwise you get these horrific dollar swings: $1 million this year! Two dollars the next!

To balance out the wild ride of tracking dollars, make sure you’re tracking activity with the same dog-like tenacity. For your volunteers (board, cabinet, major gifts committee, CEO) it is easy to get discouraged when it takes forever to confirm a gift. To keep engagement high, report to them regularly on the following:

  • How many new people they have told about your charity
  • How many meetings they have booked
  • How many meetings they have attended

Keep a running tally for each person, and send the full list out to your volunteers every month or so (more often if you’re in the middle of a specific campaign). This way they can see how they’re doing against everyone else (a little public shaming is not a bad thing!) and can take pride that they are getting something done while waiting for those big gifts to close.

This is even more important for paid staff and consultants, and should be part of regular performance reviews. If you sit in front of Raiser’s Edge all day and never leave the office or make a phone call, the money will not come knocking. Your boss will eventually throw you under a rickety bus.

Alternately, if you’re having a hard time reaching your financial goal, but have been consistently talking and meeting with prospects, your boss will re-think that bus toss. And don’t worry – the money will eventually come in.

Don’t wait for an invitation to track your activity – just do it. If you don’t have prospect tracking software, use an excel spreadsheet, or a running task in Outlook, or Post-its (they come in many cheerful, activity-driving colours).

Good luck! : )

–          Siobhan

PS. Want to talk about fundraising all the time? Me too. So why not join the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ meetup.com group in your community. For Vancouver: http://www.meetup.com/Association-of-Fundraising-Professionals-Vancouver-area/


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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