Here’s an enlightening exercise:
Go through your database and identify your current donors who have made leadership-level annual gifts, current major gifts, and planned gift commitments. Next, do the following:
- For those donors who have made leadership-level annual gifts (whatever the amount as defined by your institution), determine the average age at which they made their first such gift.
- For those donors who have made current major gift commitments (again, at whatever amount your institution defines a “major gift”), determine the average age at which they made their first major gift commitment to you.
- For those donors who have made planned gift arrangements that include your institution, determine the average age at which they made their first such commitment to you?
Now that you know the average ages of your donors when they made their first leadership-level annual gifts, major gifts, and planned gifts, roll the clock back 5 years. What could you have done 5 years before these donors made their commitments to facilitate larger, perhaps even earlier gifts?
For example, say the average age of your donors when making their first annual leadership-level gift is 51. Look at those donors in your database currently who are 46 year old. What are you doing between the ages of 46-51 to nudge these new leadership-level donor prospects to give more and give earlier?
Our jobs are not simply to provide stewardship after gifts are made. Our jobs are to anticipate, educate, engage, listen, encourage, and propose.