All Donors as Major Donors

by Jason Dick

Here is a crazy idea. What if we treated all of our donors like major donors? What if instead of cultivating and personally soliciting donors we started treating them all as if they were major donors?

This is a question I’ve been pondering in my head over and over again for a number of weeks. It is linked to the concept of what is a major donor and why do we only personally cultivate donors at a specific level? To get a little more background on where this idea has developed look at Turning it Over to the Donor, and The Rich Young Ruler. I have a follow up article for this ready for Friday and I’d love to include some of your comments, arguments for & against, and ideas.

I think it is a little untraditional and want some of your expert opinions. This idea first crossed my mind when I realized that I am a “major donor” to the church that I go to. I do this out of a passion for the work of my church and because I’m connected to it’s purpose and mission. And I think that is what we want from all of our donors. I’ve struggled sometimes because in non-profit we will often set a value on each donor based on their circle of influence and their giving capacity. But we in non-profit have set our expectations extremely low. I often will spend more time cultivating a give from a wealthy person to give what equates to small gift in proportion to their wealth and forget that the “normal” donors are often giving a much higher percentage of their wealth with a gift of the same size.  There are many wealthy people that are giving generously out of the money that they have-don’t misread me. All that I am saying is that percentage wise a $500 gift costs more for someone who makes $50,000 a year than $1,000 gift from someone who makes $150,000 a year.

Giving is connected extremely closely to the way we think, act, and believe it is often at the heart of who we want to be. Check out What Motivates Giving and a collection of experts answering the same question at the Giving Carnival: Motivation. In non-profit we have a unique opportunity to partner with people and connect to the passions of their heart. This kind of connection doesn’t have a distinction between annual fund and major donor. This kind of fundraising is all about one on one relationship.

I am really interested in your input here. Please comment below if you like/dislike, agree or adamantly disagree. And I’ll highlight some of this conversation in a follow up article.

Previous post:

Next post: