Can Gratitude Grow a Major Donor’s Gift?

Executive Directors — Tell me if this has ever happened to you?

One year a donor gave a surprise $10,000 donation to your organization. And despite sending a timely acknowledgment letter to them and then sending them regular email updates, you simply never heard from them again.

Frankly, you’re starting to wonder if they’re going to ever give again?

Here’s the tough love: this approach to thanking larger donors is probably not going to work. And it certainly isn’t the approach that will create the cadence of large donations that will fully fund your mission year after year.

That’s because transactional responses to large gifts don’t work when you are trying to retain donors — especially larger donors who need a greater and more customized donor experience from you.

When it comes to major-donors, what does work?

[For context] I spend my time teaching #nonprofits to secure more unrestricted revenue by learning how to raise 50–75% of their annual, financial need from their top 30 donors. To secure and then retain (and grow) those dollars each year, you must create amazing donor experiences that are rooted in that donor’s mission for giving.

And because of this, I have ONE RULE when it comes to thanking.

And that rule is: EXCEED EXPECTATIONS.

To grow a donor’s gift year after year, you must help them see the exact way their gift has changed a life.

And the higher the gift, the more I want you to customize that step of gratitude and impact-reporting. You must learn WHAT your donor needs to hear from you that serves their mission for giving and leads them to their next gift. You must follow this system so that you can receive their BEST gift, EVERY year.

There’s no trendy substitute.

I see so much money left on the table when donors aren’t thanked in an engaging way. How you thank your donor determines the size of the next gift they give. Period.

Sadly, an organization’s poor approach and lack of dedication to gratitude actually keeps their donors from giving larger and repeat gifts.

In the story I shared about the surprise $10,000 donor who they never heard from again, how could they have increased their chances of keeping in touch?

You must use your gift acknowledgment to LEAD the donor to their next step with you. In the letter, what did you tell them you’d do next?

  • Phone them in 60 days to let them know what impact their gift had made?
  • Tell them you’d send them an impact report in 90-days to update them on the project they’d funded?
  • Give them a timeframe when you’d be in their town next so that the two of you could have coffee?

You have way more control of the size and timing of the second gift than you think. But it all depends on how you used your acknowledgment to lead them to the next gift and next step with your organization.

How about you? How can you lead your donors to their next and greater gift today?

P.S. This method I teach? It’s a game-changer for nonprofits who want to learn how to LEAD donors through annual donor experiences that grow gifts every year. Everyone can learn how to do it. Here’s a 1-page cheat-sheet that shows the annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly steps (including thanking) you need to take to secure and retain your donors.

Grab it here:

About Sherry:

Sherry Quam Taylor teaches nonprofit leaders how to pivot from a heavy dependence on program, government, and event gifts and into securing large, investment-level donations from individuals so they can finally fund their missions. The leaders she works with are experts in their field, but when it comes to individual donor fundraising, they’ve simply never been trained on how to do it, so it feels uncomfortable and frustrating. She helps them learn the exact steps to move into mid- and major level gift activities that feel comfortable, involves less dread, and fully funds their mission for the long-haul. She does this nationally through her private coaching and 90-day LET’S GROW fundraising accelerator.


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