Building relationships with major gift prospects is often a lengthy process of strategic engagement that should start and end with one thing: prompt and thorough follow up. As a fundraiser, you should make it your #1 priority to follow up on any action items relative to conversations you have with your prospects. How fast? Within 24 hours fast! By doing this, you demonstrate to the prospect that you not only value the relationship but they are a priority to your organization. After all, who doesn’t want to feel valued, right? Let me give you an example:

A fundraiser meets with a prospect for lunch. During the meeting, the fundraiser and prospect discuss:

  • The upcoming retirement of the prospect’s favorite professor, Dr. Alfred Letz.
  • Research being done in 3D printing at Mumford that might be of interest to the prospect’s company.
  • Updates on the Women in Engineering Endowed scholarship. The prospect supports this fund and verbally committed $10,000 more during in the meeting.
  • The prospect’s daughter is considering attending Mumford next fall.

Within 24 hours, this should be your follow up email from the meeting:

Dear Leslie,

It was great to have lunch with you yesterday and get caught up. First, I wanted to thank you for committing an additional $10,000 to the Women in Engineering Endowed Scholarship. We truly appreciate your generous gift in support of our women engineers. When I shared the news with the club president, she and the other students offered to set up a Zoom meeting to personally thank you and provide you with updates on the program. Please let me know what dates will work for you in the coming weeks and we will get this scheduled.

I wanted to follow up with you on some of the topics we discussed. Plans are in the works for a big retirement celebration for Professor Letz this spring. I will send you the details when they become available. Here is an article about his retirement: mumford.edu/letzretirement.

After our discussion on 3D printing at Mumford and how this might be of help to your company, I reached out to the professor heading up this research. Her name is Dr. Ellen Hilimire (ehilimire@mumford.edu). I let her know you may be in touch and provided her with an overview of your company.

How exciting to hear that your daughter is considering attending Mumford next fall. It would be awesome to have her to follow in your footsteps. If she needs more information on the electrical engineering department, please let me know. I am also happy to arrange a tour of the department.

Leslie, thank you again for your time and conversation.  I hope to see you at Mumford this spring. Go Tigers!

Sincerely,

Mike Patterson

Quick and to the point! You have to remember – in non-profit fundraising, the fundraiser and the organization are usually not the biggest priority in your prospect’s life. Truth is, we are probably on the low end of their list. Speedy follow up is KEY in keeping you on your prospect’s radar. Not only are you saying, “I value you,” but swift and thoughtful communication will lay the foundation of trust with your prospect and will hopefully lead you to that major gift. You might just shock and impress them. What are you waiting for? The clock is ticking…

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