4 simple steps to raise more money by qualifying your donors

Two women meeting in modern office, looking at a digital tablet

Want to raise more money for your amazing cause?

If you’re an organization with even a small established donor base, chances are there are donors already giving to you who are interested in making a greater investment in your organization.

I was recently working with a client on a major gift project, when we discovered that their most dedicated donors had the capacity to give 8 times more than they were currently being asked for.

If you want to build your major gift program, you need to grow your pipeline - and the first place to start is by qualifying those generous donors who are already giving to you to explore their interest in developing a deeper relationship with you and your organization.

The idea of qualifying donors is something that seems to be shrouded in mystery - but in reality, it’s a simple process that can be followed by any fundraiser – even if you’re a smaller shop.

Here are the 4 simple steps you need to take to raise more money by qualifying your individual donors.

(BONUS RESOURCE: If you don’t know which donors to prioritize for qualification, you can download my free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and follow Step 1)

1. Send a letter

I love starting a new relationship with a donor using the mail.

A hand-addressed and highly personalized letter will always get a donor’s attention – and you’ll stand out more than ever now that all those less savvy fundraisers think that mail is dead!

A great letter will introduce you to the donor, build trust, and lay the groundwork on what to expect next.

Stumped on what to write about? My clients and students get access to my library of effective customizable templates, including letters, phone scripts and donor meeting plans – but if we aren’t working together yet, here’s a simple outline to follow in the meantime:

a.) Thank you! Here’s the impact of your support (briefly!)

b.) Here’s why I’m getting in touch – you are a valued donor, I would like to meet to seek your advice on a key project,

understand your experience with our organization, etc. (HINT: this is about them, not you)

c.) Here’s what I will do next, by when (i.e. I will call you in the next couple of weeks to find a convenient time to meet - see Step 2 below)

d.) In the meantime, here’s how to reach me

e.) Thanks again!

2. Make a phone call

Now it’s time to pick up that 500 lb phone and give your prospective donor a call.

Because you followed the first step of sending a letter, introducing yourself and setting some expectations, this step will be much easier.

Plus, you’ll have established a built in accountability deadline in your letter – because if you are building trust with a donor, you have to do what you said you’d do, when you said you were going to do it!

Trust yourself, and don’t get caught up in overpreparing for this step. Prepare a few speaking points for yourself, and pick up that phone and dial, and have a conversation.

3. Follow up by email

If I wasn’t able to reach a donor by phone, I like to try a couple of times at different times, then leave a message and send an email immediately to follow up.

I know people are busy, so I like to keep it brief, but provide a quick recap (I left you a phone message to follow up on my letter…)

Fun fact: the ideal length for a follow up email like this one?

Between 50 and 125 words will get you the highest response rate.

4. Rinse and repeat…and repeat…and repeat…

The single biggest mistake I see most fundraisers make is giving up far too soon.

To borrow a statistic from sales (because ALL OF US are in sales, my friend) it takes 6 to 8 touchpoints before you can qualify a lead – and most people give up after 3 to 4.

The key is to continue to provide value in all your touchpoints and stay focused on the donor and their needs.

Keep trying, and mix up your channels! Experiment with different approaches that will get your donors attention, like sending a personalized video message.

Stay tuned for more practical tips on qualifying donors for your major gift program – including an exclusive new opportunity for us to work together to build a customized step-by-step plan to get you taking practical action to land big gifts for your great cause.

Can’t wait to share more soon!

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)

Featured Posts
Recent Posts