One of our clients held a gala this fall. In response to an invitation, one individual sent them a reply saying, “I’m sorry I can’t make it, but here’s $5,000.”
“That’s a ‘come and see me’ gift,” I said to the executive director. I encouraged this staff leader to get on an airplane and go visit this person who had just made such a generous, spur-of-the-moment gift. From my perspective, if someone can simply write a check for $5,000 based on an invitation to a gala, they have the capacity to do a lot more. A visit with that person could yield another gift, perhaps right on the spot. The organization could secure a commitment from that donor to make a similar gift for a number of years in a row – a so-called “sustaining” annual gift. At a minimum, they will have begun the very valuable process of effectively stewarding this donor’s relationship their organization.
Are your donors asking you to come and see them? Do you take the time to look for those out-of-the-ordinary, unexpected gifts that come your way? Is your annual fund staff trained to notice these special gifts? Is there a system that flags extra large gifts from the direct mail program for special attention? What do you do when you find these donors? The answers to these questions can form base of a good, sustainable major gifts program.
Many donors want to be noticed. All donors want to be thanked. While it might seem extravagant to get on an airplane to go and visit that $5,000, think of the return on that investment. For the price of a $300 airplane ticket and a $25 cab ride, you can help secure that $5,000 for future years – not a bad payoff to be sure.
Watch out for those “come and see me” gifts. Your donors are calling…you better answer.