What to Carry When You Meet with Major Donors

By Erik Rogers, Chief Strategist Major Gift Services

A meeting with a potential donor is a critical event. This connection could result in a partnership that changes hundreds of lives, so your major gift officers need to be as prepared as possible to make their case for why the donor should support the organization.

At Dunham+Company, we suggest equipping your officers with four resources to help organize their thoughts, communicate why the donor’s support is important, and report back to the supporter about the impact their investment made.

A Case for Support Brochure

This could be a pamphlet or even a nice, 30-page brochure. It could be huge, tiny, circular, rectangular – it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Just make sure your material includes a narrative that clearly communicates who you are, why you choose to exist, and how you can really make a difference with the donor’s help.

I love these pieces because certain donors just want to sit down and read through every single piece of literature you have. Others just want to make sure you’re legitimate. A case for support brochure meets both these needs – clearly communicating to all types of donors who you are, what you do, and how the donor is a vital part of your mission.

Executive Summary of the Case for Support

Some donors don’t want lengthy explanations about your organization’s mission – they just want you to cut to the chase and make your request. In those situations, you want to have an executive summary that simplifies your case for support down to a one-sheet or front-and-back piece.

When you approach a donor, you’ll have both a large brochure and an executive summary in your bag so you can decide which one to use based on the supporter’s personality.

A Proposal Template

Whether you have one officer or thirty, you’ve got to lock down not only your branding but also your messaging – you need to make sure that your organization as a whole is presented clearly and consistently with every donor. That means you need to solidify your case for support, the primary elements of your projects, and overall programs.

I recommend creating a proposal template because it keeps everything consistent while also allowing you some freedom to add a sentence or two about each donor, their passions, and the specific amount you plan to request. It will save a lot of time, as well, because you won’t have to write out new proposals for each donor.

I also suggest creating your proposal template in a digital format that you can manipulate. You have a lot of different projects and programs, and a donor might not want to know about all of them. So, if you know a donor cares greatly about one key area, you can keep your introduction and narrative but delete projects that are outside the supporter’s interest. To finish it off, customize the ask at the end and add a sentence or two about why you’re asking them to specifically invest in a project or program.

Investment Report Template

An investment report template helps communicate the impact your organization has made with a donor’s gift. You can send it months or even a couple of years after the initial donation, but no matter how long it takes, you always need to report back to a supporter. This is a high priority because major donors have given large sums of money and they expect some sort of confirmation that you used their investment as you said you would.

Fortunately, an investment report template is easy to prepare. Just like the proposal template, you can write a majority of the copy and content beforehand in a digital format. Then, you can simply plug in a couple of numbers of growth or impact, add the donor’s first and last name, and then note how much the donor gave and how that made a specific difference through the organization.

With a little preparation, you can help a supporter understand how they have become a hero and made a powerful impact in people’s lives.

If you liked these tips, you can find more advice for approaching major donors in Erik’s Dunham Institute Course Major Gift Development: Your Case for Support. We hope it gives you the insights you need to develop solid, profitable relationships with supporters.


More Insights from Dunham+Company: “Online Church – Providing the Best Experience!

Ready to take the next step? 
Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information.