5 Step Plan to Cultivate More Major Donors

Major gifts can provide major opportunities for nonprofit organizations. But the prospect of asking someone to make a substantial gift to your organization may seem daunting. However, inspiring an individual to become a major donor may not be as overwhelming as you think.

At the core of a major gift is a relationship with your donor built on trust and stewardship. An individual isn’t likely to give $10,000 out of the blue, and you wouldn’t ask someone for a gift of that size whom you’d never met. But when you invest the time to build and cultivate the relationship, amazing things can happen.

Major donors have significant benefits for your nonprofit beyond the financial gift. But how do you find a major donor? And how to you get to that big ask?

Step 1: Evaluate

Illustration of profiles of major donors with hand holding magnifying glass
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

Before you build relationships with major donors, you need to find them. The best place to start is with your current donor list. Which individuals who regularly give could you ask to give more? Who on your list fits your profile of a major donor?

The most fruitful place to start is to leverage the relationships your team or board members already have. If a potential donor isn’t familiar with your organization, an introduction from a friend or colleague will go a long way towards them building trust in your nonprofit’s mission. Another tip, especially for smaller, community-based organizations, is to identify local events where you can speak about your organization to an audience who has an investment in your cause but may not know you yet. Revisit, and ask your board to revisit existing connections annually.

Part of your evaluation should involve identifying what a major donor means for your organization. Include factors such as giving history, involvement with your organization, and the donors interests and hobbies. Real estate ownership, career affiliation, and political giving history are other factors that indicate a prospect’s capacity to give.

Do extensive, deeper research on those you plan to cultivate as major donors. Making a large gift to an organization requires a level of personal connection. The more you know about these prospects, the deeper and more personal your relationship with them will be, and the more likely they’ll give at higher levels.

Look to identify prospective donors for planned giving. Some donors may be ideal candidates for a major gift, but don’t have the resources to make a sizable gift right now. Having a planned giving program you can discuss with those individuals helps to keep them actively involved in your organization and shows them the impact they can still have.

Step 2: Plan

three women meeting in office setting

Now that you’ve identified a group of potential major donors, how will you cultivate those relationships? A well thought out plan will help you to make these relationships as rewarding as possible for all parties.

You may find it helpful to designate an experienced team member as a Major Gifts Officer. This individual would be the face of your major donor program, coordinating all major donor communications efforts. Their tasks could include:

  • Helping to prepare major gift marketing and promotional materials
  • Handling files and information pertaining to major donors
  • Staying in touch with major donors to steward those relationships
  • Making the ask of a potential major donor
  • Continuing to build a base of prospects

With someone in charge, now you can determine your plan for when, how, and what you will communicate with prospective major donors. Ensure that every member of your team knows their role moving forward.

Consider the following questions as you build your plan:

  • What will your initial contact with each prospect be?
  • How often will you communicate with each major donor?
  • What will your message be?
  • How will you track communications, outcomes, and progress?
  • How often will your team meet regarding the major donor program?
  • What can be done to keep this group engaged with your organization?

Remember: The focus with potential major donors should be the most personalized cultivation possible.

Step 3: Engage with Major Donors

An ideal place to begin when cultivating relationships with major donors is a brief introductory meeting. You may be meeting with current donors who already know much about your organization. Or, it may be a conversation with prospects who are brand new to you.

While the content may vary, first and foremost, position each donor as front and center in your mission work. Frame your conversation on how the person in front of you makes a difference. Other topics to discuss with the prospect include the mission of your organization and your upcoming fundraising plans and goals.

From there, continue to maintain regular, personal touches with your major donor prospects. Some ways to engage major donors include:

  • Regular check-in calls, personal notes, or meetings
  • Inviting them to volunteer
  • Providing a tour of your office/facilities
  • Giving them opportunities to meet the beneficiaries of your organization
  • Hosting a formal event or gala

Another idea is to consider developing a major donor society. Your major donors are a special group. Having a society to specifically recognize that select group can have many benefits. Not only will it make donors feel they are a part of something exclusive—it can also help you to raise more funds in the long run. If a donor plans to give a certain amount for an annual gift, and membership in your society is based on gift amounts that are a bit more, that donor may be inspired to give more to become a part of the society. You can host events exclusive to members of the society and provide perks or gifts for them as well.

Step 4: Reporting

You’re getting to know your donors, encouraging their involvement, and maybe you’re ready to make the ask. One thing that can help, both before making an ask and after a gift is made, is to be diligent in your reporting. Be very transparent about what each donor’s major gift allowed you to accomplish, both with specific details and regarding your big picture mission.

Talking about results may be a part of your discussion with a major donor leading up to a gift. If you can show them before the gift is made the clear steps that could be taken to achieve a goal, and what each piece would cost, it helps the donor to better understand their potential impact.

A piece of the reporting process is knowing how much and how often each major donor wants to hear from you. Some donors may be more interested in certain data than others; some may want all the details you can give, while others want less. Part of your cultivation process will be identifying where each major donor falls on this spectrum and providing personalized reporting accordingly.

Step 5: Track & Reevaluate

Open laptop with coffee cup and two sheets with printed data

Understanding the success of your major gift program will require you to track your progress and evaluate the success of your strategies. The only way to understand where you’re at and where you could improve is to consistently track your data. Keep detailed information on:

  • The results of any campaign specific to major donors
  • Each interaction you have with a major donor
  • When an ask is made
  • When gifts are received & the size of each gift
  • Your retention rates for major donors 

Remember: major giving is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build these relationships with prospective donors to reach a point where you can ask and receive a major gift. You’ll likely be trying a variety of strategies in your efforts to connect with each prospective donor on your list.

At Paw Print, we’re poised to assist with all your fundraising materials, including mailing services, brochure and booklet printing, graphic design, and copy writing. Contact us today to start a conversation about developing a major donor appeal campaign.

10 Essential Outdoor Promotional Products

Golf course man and woman using branded promotional products

Summer has arrived, with Vermonters trading winter coats and skis for flip flops and camping gear. This season is especially hot for outdoor promotional products, with a variety of items available for branding that emphasize being active and enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer.

Here are 10 of our favorite picks for branded outdoor promotional products.

1. Bamboo Straws

Biodegradable Bamboo Straws

Summer is the time to sip cool drinks on hot days. Often, you may be enjoying these drinks with a straw. Plastic straws are being banned in more and more locations, and reusable alternatives can be used on the go or in the comfort of your own home. Branded straws, including a biodegradable bamboo option, show your brand’s commitment to sustainability.

2. Roasting Sticks

Marshmallow roasting sticks with branded carrying bag

This promo item caught my eye! Smores are a Summer staple, and a branded roasting set is perfect for toasting marshmallows, hot dogs, or anything else over a campfire.

3. Reusable Water Bottles

gray metal water bottle decorated with blue and white logo

Reusable and recycled bottles are a top promotional item any time of the year, but going into Summer they are an especially popular choice. As people spend more time outside in hot weather, they’ll want cold drinks handy. Insulated bottles help keep beverages cool for long periods of time and encourage the use of reusable versus plastic disposable bottles.

4. Cooling Towels

Whether you’re golfing or gardening, cooling towels are designed to help you stay cool during extended work or play. Simply soak the towel in water, wring it out, and wear it around your head or neck for a refreshing boost.

5. BBQ Set

Bamboo Barbecue Set Branded

A successful promo item is one that is used by the recipient. A quality branded BBQ set will not only be used but used in a location and situation that’s fun and personal: a family cookout.

6. Blankets

Embroidered blanket outdoor promotional product

Blankets are perfect to spread out on the grass for a day in the sun, or as a cover up on chilly nights under the stars. A gift of a branded blanket adds a personal touch, that can easily transition from use in the home to wherever your recipient’s travels take them.

7. Chairs

Folding Camp Chair with Logo

A comfortable folding chair is a must-have for sporting events, beach days, camping, barbeques, and more! Branded chairs can be effective as prizes for event giveaways or as higher-end thank you gifts to top customers.

8. Backpacks

Purple drawstring backpack with full color logo art

Whether it’s a drawstring bag for a day at the pool or a durable option for hikers, backpacks are used by people of all age groups and activity levels. And, bags are also the most visible of branded items, generating more impressions than any other promo product.

9. Koozies & Insulated Coolers

Blue branded picnic basket with food inside

When the weather is hot, you’ve got to keep your food and drinks extra cool. Insulated bags, coolers, and Koozies are especially useful this time of year. They can be used in a variety of environments, ensuring your brand is seen by a wide audience.

10. Frisbees

Array of colorful branded frisbees

No barbecue or day at the beach is complete without a Frisbee! Branded frisbees have been a popular promotional item for nearly 50 years.  Frisbees and flying discs make for inexpensive event giveaways that will send your brand soaring.

Encourage recipients to bring your brand along on their outdoor adventures with promotional products. Decorating items like these 10 with your logo helps to associate your brand with fun, leisure, and activity. Contact Sarah, our Promotional Branding Specialist, to discuss ways you can brand for the Summer with promotional products.

A Fun History of Promo: The Frisbee

Red branded frisbee

What does the term “branded promotional product” mean to you? It may bring to mind the basics: pens, t-shirts, and mugs. But it doesn’t stop there. Items for fun and play, like Frisbees, can also be decorated with your logo and used to send a unique message.

The Frisbee has a long history, from ancient sport to college pastime to its use as an advertising tool and promotional product. Let’s toss things back in time in our next installment of A Fun History of Promo.

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8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

woman pointing at business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

The business card is an old dog that’s learned quite a few new tricks.

A lot of different print work comes through our doors at Paw Print, but business cards consistently remain the most popular order. Business cards trace their roots back to 15th century China, when visitors left “visiting cards” at the homes of businessmen they hoped to meet with. Over the centuries these cards evolved to convey a variety of information, but one thing remained constant: they were designed to make an impression.

Often a business card is one of the first things a customer or potential client will receive from you. A well-designed business card can go a long way towards creating a favorable impression of your business, as well as generating engaging conversations between you and your customers.

Why Should You Print Business Cards?

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Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

Eco-Friendly Promo Header

What does it mean to you to be a Vermonter? One thing that has always been a piece of the Vermont brand, and that’s a part of my philosophy, is minimizing our environmental impact. Vermont is overflowing with locally produced items that breathe quality and sustainability. It’s an essential part of who we are as a community.

In the business world, it’s crucial that you can back up your claims.  You want your marketing, including promotional products, to accurately reflect your brand and its core beliefs. If your company has an eco-friendly focus and you’re looking to market your brand with promotional products, there are several options available produced with sustainability in mind.

This is especially important in today’s market due to the up and coming generation – Gen Z. Expected to make up 40% of the U.S. consumer market by 2020, members of Gen Z consistently list a company’s values as a top factor in choosing whether to work with that company. Those values include both social and environmental responsibility.

With that in mind, we created our Promo with a Purpose campaign to highlight promotional products that are made with a focus on sustainability and reusability.

Explore our ultimate guide to eco-friendly promotional products below!

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Paw Print & Mail Voted Best Commercial Printer in Vermont Business Magazine’s 2019 Best of Business Awards 

Paw Print & Mail is honored to be the recipient of Vermont Business Magazine’s 2019 Best of Business Award for Best Commercial Printer!

The Best of Business (BOB) Awards is a program created by Vermont Business Magazine (VBM)to honor the best Vermont companies in over 100 categories. VBM surveys its subscribers, asking them to vote for the businesses they trust most.

With close to 13,000 votes placed for the 2019 awards, we’re proud to see our name alongside so many distinguished local businesses, including some of our clients! You can view the full list of winners here.

This is the third year VBM has held the BOB Awards, and the first year to include a category for Best Commercial Printer.

We are thankful for those who voted for us, for our wonderful clients, and for our hardworking team!

Top 5 Reasons Your Customers Keep Promotional Products

Considering using promotional products to market your business? With so many different items available for branding, there’s sure to be a product that’s the perfect fit for your brand’s personality, which you can put to work to promote your company or organization.

But before you buy just any logoed product, consider this. Your promotional products are going to have the most impact, and lead to the most success for your business, if they are regularly used by the recipients.

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The (Fun) History of The Branded Tote Bag

Young woman smiling and holding blue branded tote bag

Searching for logo branded items? These days, the possibilities are almost endless. It’s easier than ever to find an item that represents your brand and your message.

The promotional products industry is a massive, global industry. And it owes its launch to a basic product: the branded tote bag.

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5 Ways to Use Promotional Products

Take a look around your work space. How many branded items do you see? I’ve got 4 within easy reach—in fact, 74% of consumers have at least 1 promotional product in their work space.

There are a lot of numbers out there citing the effectiveness of promotional products. They are a usable, versatile advertising medium that can generate awareness of and excitement about your brand. But how and when should you go about using them? Try one of these 5 strategies to start incorporating promotional products into your business strategy.

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Sustainable Branding with Cork Promotional Products

Cork bark is harvested from trees in long strips, like those piled here.

When you hear the word “cork” you may be reminded of pushing pins into a cork board or popping the seal on a bottle of wine. But today, cork is being used in more ways than ever before, as a lightweight, versatile, and environmentally friendly crafting material. Cork is increasingly popular with designers and is being used as a component in several categories of branded promotional products.

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