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How To Cultivate Major Donors | Part 1 - Definition

Before delving into the strategies for engaging and nurturing major donors, it is crucial to establish a clear understanding of what constitutes a major donor. In the business world, retailers often create personas for their ideal customers. For instance, one national retailer has created a detailed profile of a smartly dressed woman in her 40s, including her shopping preferences, the car she drives, and even her family details. This persona aids them in crafting targeted marketing and sales strategies, allowing them to focus their efforts effectively.

In the nonprofit sector, we may not have customers per se, but we do have partners, givers, and donors. It is equally important for us to comprehend the individuals who financially support our organization and devise strategies that resonate with them.

Many organizations define major donors based on their giving history. Smaller nonprofits might consider someone who contributes $1000 or more in a single gift as a major donor. Alternatively, they may assess giving over a year, identifying individuals who contribute $100 per month. Larger nonprofits often set the threshold for major donors at $10,000, $25,000, or even a minimum of $250,000 for substantial organizations. Regardless of the specific giving amount that defines a major donor for your organization, it is essential to establish a clear definition and develop a robust strategy to engage and cultivate these valuable supporters.

However, before settling on the sole criterion of previous giving to define major donors, let us consider an alternative perspective. What if we expand the definition of major donors to include individuals within the social circle of our current donors? This could encompass friends, business partners, coworkers, fellow churchgoers, or others who possess the capacity to contribute at a level consistent with your major donor threshold. Adopting this broader definition opens up a multitude of possibilities for cultivation and engagement.

Incorporating prospective donors into the definition also enables the development of an acquisition strategy for major donors. We will delve deeper into this topic in a subsequent post, as it remains one of the most challenging aspects of any donor development initiative.

Now that we have established a clear definition for major donors let us proceed to the crucial aspect of donor identification.