Caring for Your Major Donors
First, who are your major donors? You’ll have to analyze your donor base and identify those individuals – not foundations – who have given your most significant gifts. There is likely a small group that rises to the top as your major donors, whether that is gifts of $5,000 or $50,000. This group of your most loyal supporters should get special attention to keep them engaged in your library’s mission and vision.
So what does this special attention look like? If you just remember the fundraising adage “people give to people,” you’ll recognize what to do Here are some ideas:
- Invite a major donor to a library program that you know will interest him/her.
- If appropriate, perhaps you invite them to volunteer. Keep them coming in the door to experience the library first-hand.
- Provide periodic updates on the programs he/she has supported.
- Write a personal “thinking of you” or “thank you” note to express your gratitude for their involvement.
- Share breakfast or lunch with each major donor to nurture the one-on-one relationship. At this meeting, ask questions about their thoughts and opinions and just LISTEN.
- Be sure your staff knows who these people are so that when they do come to the library, they are recognized and acknowledged by name.
It’s all about nurturing relationships with a little attention and those small, special touches, they add up and matter a great deal over time. When your library has a special need that requires extra resources, if you have nurtured these relationships carefully, you can be much more confident and comfortable asking for support from these previous donors. If you have not paid attention to them, your request will be much more difficult to make and the response will likely be lukewarm or even cold.
Taking the time to build close relationships with your major donors creates a win-win situation. Donors feel appreciated and you feel supported. More importantly, your community benefits from stronger library service.