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Low First Gift? Don't Be Discouraged!

A colleague of mine once met with a donor who certainly looked the part of someone with great wealth. The only problem was he had only committed $1,000 to the nonprofit my colleague represented.


This donor drove a $150,000 car and lived in a swanky home in the very best part of Chicago. Yet, he gave only $1,000. The natural inclination, I suppose, is to think “Is that all there is?”  


It wasn’t until several months later that the donor let it be known that he had nearly $1 million in pledges to other organizations to fulfill before the end of the year. He said that the $1,000 was left over money after his other larger commitments.


Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, people who give away substantial amounts of money plan out their largest gifts years in advance. Hasn’t that been your experience?


If you’re a major gift fundraiser, this means that you should be working with someone for at least 3-5 years before you can hope to become one of their top giving priorities.


If you’re playing the game of hoping to meet with someone once or twice before closing on a big gift, well, good luck with that strategy. If you stop to think about it, if you only meet with an individual once or twice, common sense dictates that it’s not going to be easy to receive a big gift.


Your goal should be to spend time with the donor over the course of years to gain a greater understanding and, over time, move up in the heart and mind of the donor’s giving priorities.


Sorry, this almost never happens in a year.


If someone’s first gift doesn’t exactly knock your proverbial socks off, hey, take a deep breath and realize that’s perfectly normal.


Stay the course with the donor and build the relationship. You’ll be glad you did.

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