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Mayes Wilson & Associates

Following up on a major gift ask

Julie Whelan Capell |

Last month in part four of this series, I discussed what to do in an ask meeting with a donor. Today, in the fifth and final installment in “Making the Ask,” I give you ideas for how to follow up with major gift donors after the ask meeting.

Immediately after the meeting, send both an email and a snail mail letter thanking the donor for meeting with you. Sending texts or videos are other options that are becoming increasingly common. Particularly for millennials and younger donors, this is probably their preferred method of contact. (You checked on their communication preferences when you met with them, right??) Hand-written thank you notes are also a possibility, and will be most appreciated by baby boomers.

You’ll also want to transcribe your notes from the meeting as soon as possible so you don’t forget anything. Put everything in that snazzy donor database you have so that others in your organization can see the results of the meeting. While you’re in there, make sure the donor is added to any mailing lists appropriate for their interests.

If the donor made a pledge during the meeting, you’ll want to note that in the donor database too, and get a reminder notice out to them immediately (or on whatever timetable you agreed on at the meeting).

Of course, your relationship with the donor shouldn’t stop there. Here are some ideas for how to continue building relationships with your major donors all year long.

Keep building the donor relationship all year long

  • Invite the donor to organizational events
  • Find a way to offer them special “behind-the-scenes” looks at your mission focused work.
  • Send short videos showing them what’s happening at your organization (I talk more about 1-minute donor videos here )
  • Make a plan to follow up with the donor at least quarterly in a way that allows for a two-way conversation. By this I mean a phone call or another meeting on the internet or in person. Put the follow-up on your calendar or other app to get a reminder.

Your goal at all times is to nurture a continuing relationship with your top donors. That means you have to do more than just bombard them with one-way communication pieces like newsletters or only requests for funding. Make sure there is a way for them to give you feedback, advice, and ask questions about your work. As a fundraiser, you need to listen to your donors and continually strive to include them as valued friends of your organization.

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