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[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

December 10, 2018

Major Gifts Are Transformational, not Transactional

imageOne of Hartsook’s fundraising tenets, coined by its founder Bob Hartsook, is: “No one wants to give money away, but donors do want to make a positive difference in the lives of others or in the life of their community.” A donor’s philanthropy is not a transaction that ends with the gift. It is a transformational act that marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship.

It takes time to cultivate the donor relationship prior to soliciting a major gift, but relationship-building doesn’t end once the gift has been given. A gift should only deepen the relationship. Continued communication and appreciation are not only essential, but they open the door for future giving opportunities, including legacy gifts. Here are a few tips for cultivating donor prospects and deepening donor relationships:

Develop a donor strategy

You should have individual strategies for each prospective donor and existing major gift donor. No two people are the same, so the relationships should not be cultivated and appreciated in the same way. Create a plan based on and tailored to a particular donor’s interests and values.

It’s about the mission, not the money

If you are asking for a gift every time you meet with donors, there is a good chance they will start to feel used or, at least, disenchanted. Talk with them often about the mission – not just the money. Remind them of the impact their gifts are making. Set up personal visits with donors several times a year. These don’t need to be long visits, just meaningful ones. Ask them about their areas of interest – and then really listen.

Illustrate the impact

Donors want to see – not just hear about – the impact their gifts are making. Send them success stories that include pictures of people and projects. Invite them to tour your facility. Have clients and board members send personal, handwritten thank you notes. Be creative in demonstrating your organization’s tangible outcomes and your appreciation.

Donors don’t want to give their money away, but they do want to make a difference. Help them make that happen through strong relationships that will impact the mission now and for years to come.

Ross J. Pfannenstiel, Senior Vice President, [email protected]

Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].

Will You Be There When John Shamberg Calls?

A big part of fundraising is showing up and being available. I learned this lesson on a very memorable New Year’s Eve, a very long time ago.

As an eager young fundraiser working for Washburn University, I didn’t know that it was unusual still to be at work in the evening of December 31st. But, there I was.

Earlier that year, a graduate of Washburn University School of Law told me he was going to give a gift of land to his synagogue, a private K-12 school and Washburn. John Shamberg, who has since passed away, made millions of dollars for institutions all over the world, and he wanted to give a significant gift to organizations he valued. His 40 acres of land on the outskirts of Kansas City were valued at $450,000, and his intention was to give $150,000 each to three organizations.

He’d left the task to the last day of the year, but now he was ready to make it happen.

He called the synagogue. No answer.

He called the K-12 school. No answer.

Then, he called Washburn and got me.

“Bob,” he said, “you just won the jackpot!”

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