Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

Rachel Muir, in her article reprinted by Guidestar in June 2014, gives us a compelling way of quickly converting most of your first-time donors into major donors. “The secret sauce is thanking your donors properly, learning more about their interests, and holding yourself accountable.”

Step 1: Thank the bejesus out of your donor. Your donor chose you out of 1.5 million nonprofits. Create a celebration that tells the donor how grateful you are for their gift.

  • Get a handwritten thank-you card out the door in 48 hours
  • Have a board member thank the donor as well. Being thanked personally by a volunteer board member is the most powerful and meaningful thanks a donor can get. It also helps board members get involved and excited about fundraising.
  • Connect the gift with a meaningful outcome (e.g. giving a fragile kitten a lifesaving vaccine)

Step 2: Learn more about your donor. Use Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and other sources to learn more about your donor, their company, their neighborhood and interests and their likely giving capacity. Then, in a follow-up thank-you call, ask your donor questions to reveal their interests.

  • What made you decide to give to us?
  • What was the best gift you ever gave? What made it great?
  • If you could change the world, what would you do?

Step 3: Set a revenue goal and cultivation plan for the new donors that have major donor potential. Lewis Carroll said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” This is especially true in fundraising. How many times have you attended a meeting where people agreed on the right strategy for developing a donor, but nothing happened? Leverage the data you collected in Step 2 into a specific timetable of meaningful interactions with your donor, and the dollar amount you will eventually ask for. Then hold yourself accountable for doing it.

You can read the entire article at

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County,