Now, not all donors are equal. Typically, the top 20 percent of donors account for 80 percent of gifts to charitable organizations. These big donors want, need and deserve specialized information and messages from you. To determine exactly what they need to hear, you might want to study the U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, done by Bank of America and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The most recent one was in 2014.
It shows that the wealthy aren’t motivated and driven by the same things as ordinary donors. The study also shows that most of these people plan to give more in coming years–85 percent say they plan to give as much or more through 2018 than in the past.
Here are ways to make sure your organization benefits from these generous people.
The study found that wealthy donors who volunteered in 2013 gave 73 percent more on average than those who didn’t. So, send your big donors special invitations–not just to attend functions but to help plan and orchestrate them. Or, develop a mentoring program for the people your organization serves and ask major donors to be mentors. Then, develop a newsletter or create a video to spotlight this program. Form advisory councils and invite major donors to serve. Publish special reports that detail the advisory groups’ work and share it with all major donors.
A lot of fundraising experts say you should steer clear of charts and graphs in fundraising materials. That’s might be good advice when you are dealing with typical donors but not major donors. Major donors want to know where their money is going and if it is being used effectively. According to the report, almost 20 percent pulled support when they thought their money was being misused; 74 percent said they keep on giving because they believe their support is making a difference. A newsletter heavy on statistics and data would appeal to this audience. Video interviews of those who benefit from the work your organization does would also reinforce major donors’ giving.
Big donors say they often withdraw support if they receive too many fundraising pleas or are asked to donate inappropriate amounts. Few nonprofits do so, yet specialized letters, brochures and other materials for this audience are an investment that always pays dividends. Such targeted messages pay off, not only in more gifts but, more importantly, in retention of these valuable supporters.
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