By Sarah B Lange under Uncategorized on November 21, 2023

Major Gifts - How To Get Started With High-Impact Giving

You can watch the full episode on YouTube or listen to Spotify.

Hey everyone, I'm Sarah Lange and I'm here to spark the philanthropy revolution. The word philanthropy means love of mankind. My show is all about the ways we can open our doors and hearts so we can do more good. Hey everybody, thanks for joining me.

Sarah: I'm Sarah Lange, I'm a fundraiser and today we have Marcy Heim, the Artful Asker. And Marcy and I have known each other for what, five years now?

Marcy: About, yeah, I think since 2020.

Sarah: Yeah. So Marcy and I met each other in the same business development program and have often been mistaken for each other. So I'm sure you can see how we could be sisters or cousins at least. Anyway, Marcy, thank you so much for coming on the show. And I'm just going to let you introduce yourself and tell everybody what it is you do and how you do it.

Marcy: Okay, well, first off, Sarah, thank you. Thank you for letting me join you. Yeah, we're kindred spirits. And when we met, we certainly were one of the few people from our profession that were in the room and it was kind of exciting to find each other. I have spent the last 30 years inspiring generosity. I live to inspire generosity. And I'm all about the power and joy of giving. Specifically, my focus and expertise lies in major gifts, those transformational gifts that make such a difference in our nonprofits. And I have the honor of working with clients across the country. A lot of times those clients may be embracing their first real campaign or people who have a great annual fund program, but just don't know how to get to that next level and start a real major gift program. And a lot of times they have donors that are ready and willing, and they're just not quite sure how to begin. So I really enjoy that because it can be transformational for the organization. I'm a biochemist by training and started my career raising money at the University of Wisconsin in the life sciences and agricultural areas. I was there 23 years through a $1.8 billion capital campaign. And I absolutely loved what I did. But as the foundation grew, I found that I really got more excited about working with those smaller shops, not tiny, but well, smaller and some are tiny that that really are trying to wear so many hats, but yet still start that major gift work. So I do a lot of that. I have something to share with you, Sarah, that I don't think I have. It was a wonderful surprise last month at Crescendo's planned giving conference. They presented me with the spirit of a leader award. And that was just a surprise. Thank you. A surprise and a really, really wonderful, wonderful thing that had happened completely unexpected. And it's just it's just fun to be celebrated for helping people connect the dots between what brings their donors joy and what their organizations need. And to me, I feel when we who are promoting that or that's our story, that's what we're talking about, just like you do, Sarah. And that's recognized that just lifts up the whole conference conversation or revolution, as you like to refer to it, that we're involved in right now. So that's enough about me. Let's get started on major gifts.

Sarah: Yeah. So first of all, I just want to say congratulations on your award. That's awesome. And I am not surprised at all that you got that award. So you may have been surprised, not that I was in on it, but it doesn't surprise me that you're getting recognized because I really think of you as one of the leaders in the area of foundation or major gifts. Sorry about that. But yeah. So thanks for sharing that with us and congratulations. So tell us, let's start with the idea of what is a major gift, because I think some people get really confused. So for example, like you, I used to work in a university setting for a while and their major gift is like 50,000 and up. But, you know, I think for other nonprofits, that number might be different. So let's start with the idea of what is a major gift?

Marcy: Well, and you hit the nail on the head, Sarah. Major gift is different for every organization and it's defined differently. And we as the organization will define a major gift. We might say for some, they might say $5,000 is a major gift. For some, they may say $100,000 is a major gift. Probably what's even more important than that is what does the donor define as a major gift? And each donor has an idea in their head. And I want to be sure. I can share this fact with your listeners, and that is for the typical donor, when they're thinking about making their first major gift, generally something that's 10 to 20 times what they've given to the annual fund is the place they start. So if you are completely baffled and talking to somebody about what might be an appropriate amount to ask for, and there's somebody who's been a loyal annual supporter of your organization, think of some ideas that are in that 10 to 20 times their annual gift range, and that's a good place to begin the conversation. But as you said, a major gift is defined very differently by every organization. And I think that that's kind of one of the things that I work on is to lift up the amount that we consider a major gift. And oftentimes some of the campaigns and just even, I call a major gift ‘initiatives’ because that C word can throw a lot of trauma around and be a lot of marketing and, and stuff that really isn't necessary to grow your major gift program. But for that, it's really, it's really lifting your own mindset about what is a major gift. And I like to say that 90% of the success we have raising major gifts starts right here. It's all how we think about the work we're doing.If anything like who would give that kind of money to us is crossing your mind or your leadership's mind, we've got some challenges. It's thinking things like people love to give me money and we are worthy of your investment. And really looking at some of the limiting beliefs we might be carrying around about money and about giving money to us. And also, are we worthy to ask for those dollars? So one of the things I like to start with is one of the bigger things that dictates your success is your thinking. And we become what we think about. So take a minute to consider what story is going on in your life. Why would people give to us? They're asked by so many people. They receive so many mailings or there's so many organizations who do what we do. And replace that instead with people love to give me money. We're the perfect place for them to invest their gift. They can't wait to talk to me about the projects we have going on. So start this whole journey with not just defining major gift, but lifting up your mindset and your sights to meet that.

Marcy: I love that. And I agree with you a thousand percent. You know, the number one reason that people give is because they're asked. And I know that's my experience as well. You know, I have been asked to give more than I ever thought I would be able to “afford” by my grad institution, Boston University. And they've just done a really good job of cultivating me and helping me think about giving bigger and what that would mean for the students at the School of Social Work. And I'm giving them more money than I ever thought I ever would. So it's because they just figured, “well, Sarah, let's just talk to Sarah.” And so it changed my mindset in terms of my own giving. But it was because they asked.

Marcy: Well, and Sarah, can I debate with you just a tiny bit?

Sarah: Sure.

Marcy: One of the people that I love and think a lot of is Penelope Burke. I don't know if that's a name you're familiar with. Penelope Burke actually published research based on years and years and years and years and years of asking donors directly, “Why don't you give?” And I'm going to debate with you. You're ranking just a touch here, my friend. Actually, the number one reason people list is they believe in the mission and want to make a difference so that connection to the mission comes first. But guess what comes in at number two?

Sarah: Because they were asked.

Marcy: They're asked. Right. And a lot of times people will forget that. So it is the second thing. And while we're on that, it is kind of interesting. The third reason that people list is, it just so happens I have it here, is they believe you're stable and ethical and I wanted to bring that up because in my years doing this that used to be down around number 20. and it kind of hurts my heart and I'm sure yours too that we've had so many hiccups in, you know, fraud and credibility and using gifts the way they were intended to, etc. Etc. so that whole perception of your stability and your financial accountability has crept up into number three and why people say they give. But this one will be familiar and as we talk about major gifts always to honor someone or something that's important to you is a key part of why those major gifts come. Then to extend their values, that's another thing you might say, “don't you care about planet earth?” well I may or may not but I may not have the same passion or value for it you have, doesn't mean I'm right or wrong or good or bad, just different so it's to lift up their values and finally this is another one that a lot of people forget and that's their regard for the staff and the volunteer leadership, that's all of us, that's us as fundraisers, that's us as leaders and non-profits, that's our boards, but that plays a big role in why people make those gifts and those major gifts as well, but let's get back a little bit to what you brought up and that is “they are asked” and would it be fun Sarah to share with your folks and I'm not going to really have the time to play it out so I put a link to a worksheet but what if you had a three sentence formula that let you ask for anything artfully, would that be helpful?

Sarah: Yes.

Marcy: Okay, well if you…

Sarah: Chris can you drop that in the chat for everybody

Marcy: I have a worksheet that you can download that will help you work through it but I'll just walk you through it quickly now. There are three sentences that… and I'm just trying to get what he just did out of my way Sarah so I can see you and talk to you…

Sarah: Yeah, you can just drop the… 

Marcy: There we go, there are three sentences that are really important and these three sentences are something that, as a very young fundraiser I was 21 when I started fundraising, I could have wonderful conversations but it was hard for me to actually get that ask out. So I put this together, there are other versions this was in about 1997 and the first sentence I always said “I want them to know why am I talking to them”, “why are you asking me?” so the first sentence says “you have” and it answers the question “why am I talking to you?” the second sentence says “you understand” so what is it about what I'm asking them for that they care about, they get, they understand that it's important for our non-profit to be successful and it resonates with their interests and finally would you consider a gift of ‘blank’ to do ‘blank’, so it's very specific. Now you might say “how do you know even how to fill these sentences in?” well that's an excellent question, if you don't know how to write the ask, you're probably not ready to give it and that's when you need some of those those wonderful conversations that tease out the areas in your organization they're interested in. So I'm going to read to you a couple examples of these so you can start feeling a little bit of a sense of how this works, so say we had an an ask for an endowment, Jim and Susan, this is one of my clients that went from a couple hundred thousand about 20 million in four years just by lifting up again their idea of what a major gift was, “you have been impactful investors providing an academy experience for worthy students for years.” so why am I talking to them? they're already a donor to worthy students, they already give to that, they've been giving annually, “you understand how financial limitations can keep students from experiencing the loving safe environment of our school” yeah, they get it, they've had kids there, why am I talking to them about this? They can afford it, but they know there's some kids that can't, “would you consider a gift of fifty thousand to create the smith scholarship endowment and support an academy student forever?” so the other thing I want to emphasize here is we talk about money and the size of a major gift, but you know Sarah and you know this so well, it's not about the money at all, it's about what that money does and I say really does, now I don't know if that's even proper english, but I've said it for years. What that money does is support that scholarship, I get that, lets that student come, what does that money really do? Well in the case of a private Christian school it enables them to have that walk with Christ and that's important to that donor, so what the money really does is more of an internal, you know heart-centered motivation. So look at a building, you know what the money does, it builds the building, that's great but what does the money really do, it allows that cancer research or it allows that education or it allows that construction or whatever happens within that building to happen to that really changes lives. Let me give you another one, for operations, “you have witnessed the role of sports play in the life of our students and with your own.” So why am I talking to you? You get sports, your kids do it. “You understand having staff and equipment to provide these activities is vital.” You get it. You know, the games don't happen themselves, somebody has to organize it and you need the soccer ball. “Would you consider a gift of $5,000 to support our sports program?” That's an operating fund ask. It just goes into the sports program line. And this is one that I really hope everybody hears. And I'd like to give you all as a tool, especially this year on time of year. You have a heart for whatever your organization's name. So you're talking to somebody who cares about you. Let's just use the Boys and Girls Club as an example. “You have a heart for the Boys and Girls Club. You understand that generosity helps the club thrive for the kids and the families we serve. Would you consider continuing a conversation about how you might get more involved?” So it helps you keep things moving. So again, be sure you download that worksheet and get some help writing that asks. When I think of must-haves for major gift success, you know, we've already covered you've got to kind of, you've got to be able to ask for them. But you know, Sarah, the thing that I think a lot of people miss and tell me what your experience has been is you would think this would be an easy answer. If I say, “what are you raising money for?”, “Well, that's easy.”, “Okay, what?”, “Well, this and this and this and this. And then we've got this and we need this. And we just, I mean, just give us money and we'll figure out what to do with it.” Right.

Sarah: Yeah. And the donor is going, “I don't. No, like, why would I give you money if you don't know what you're going to do with it?”

Marcy: Exactly. And I call those things vibrant options for giving. And in fact, I do a whole program on them. And I don't think, there was a time we'd say, are they attractive or appealing. And I don't think that's as much as important as being clear. Another kind of Marcy-ism is “a confused donor doesn't give.”, “A confused fundraiser doesn't ask.” And “a confused board member or volunteer doesn't help.” If I said, “Sarah, will you help me?”

Sarah: Well, I'd be like, “okay, help you do what? How long is it going to take? What skills do I need? Do I have the bandwidth or the capacity to really…”, like, help is a very vague four-letter word.

Marcy: Exactly. Exactly. It's why when we say, if only, “if only my board would help.” Well, part of the problem we're running into is we're not crystal clear on exactly how they can help. And remember that they are not professional fundraisers. They might run a million-dollar company, but a multi-million-dollar company, but asking someone to sit down with you to talk about being more involved in a non-profit might be just completely out of their comfort zone. And you really have to help them work that through. But the more clarity you can bring, the more successful you'll have, especially in that major gift arena.

Marcy: Yeah, I totally agree. And a lot of times I'll be talking to executive directors and they're like, “oh, my board refuses to do fundraising.” And my immediate question is, “well, like, have you given them education, knowledge, training, support, directives, scripts? Like, are you just kind of throwing them in the deep end of the pool without swimming lessons?” And 99% of the time, it's that they've thrown their board in the deep end of the fundraising pool and they have given them absolutely no swimming lessons.

Marcy: Yeah. And I think in our defense, I think part of that is, you know, a lot of times our boards have credible, powerful, you know, significant people on them. So, you know, at least I remember starting and feeling a little bit like, you know, who am I to tell the CEO of whatever, you know, what, but we've got to. Or we're doing exactly what you say. We're taking, we're taking them and we're throwing them into that deep end. That's a great way to put it. Yeah. 

Sarah: Yeah. And what I've found is most board members really want to help, but it goes back to what you just said. “Okay. Help. How? what does that mean?” People want to help, but we need to kind of help them figure out or direct them, direct those instincts in the direction that's going to be helpful for the nonprofit.

Marcy: Exactly. Exactly. So we've kind of covered a few things already, Sarah, and I think in order to launch a major gift program, first, you have to get your head on straight. You have to decide that you're comfortable and feeling worthy of their investments. And, and there's your, there's money junk with that.

Sarah: Oh yeah.

Marcy: You know, money doesn't grow on…

Sarah: Trees.

Marcy: Money is the root of all…

Sarah: Evil.

Marcy: Blank rich.

Sarah: Oh, filthy rich.

Marcy: Of course. And you know, Sarah, what kind of hurts my heart is… 

Sarah: Or stinking rich sometimes I hear as well.

Marcy: Exactly. is I can be with a group of high schoolers and do that last three sentences and they all yell “filthy!” Right? To me, that's another topic for another day, but if we're walking up to people and in our heads, in our subconscious mind, we're thinking “you're filthy rich”, that's a bit of a problem to try to establish an authentic relationship. So it's exploring our own money junk and our own feelings about wealth, and being sure that we walk into the room with some of that, a little bit straighter. So we talked about getting our mindset straight. Oh, and you know what I'm going to do for you in your, I also like to sing and I write these little songs and one of the things that I used to help my mindset stay positive, especially in this year-end time raising major gifts is I sing this little song. I don't have my music, so you're just going to have to hear it. I don't know how I could pull it up. I haven't figured that out, but it goes like this, ♬People love to give me money to make a difference. People love to give me money. I'm the link to their investment ♬, and that's it. And if you think about it, people love to give you money because you are the link to that gift that brings them joy. And that kind of leads us into the next thing. And you talk about this a lot, and that is those sincere, authentic relationships. You can smell and feel a fake a mile away. How are we going to get to John? Who knows John? Who can put the screws on John?

Sarah: Right. Put the screws to your donor. I love that. How does that feel for the donor when you put the screws to them?

Marcy: Give till it hurts. Let's target Paul. Oh, really? You know, and I think it particularly is sad because some of our nonprofits are engaged with people who come from situations where some of those words may have some real powerful meanings. And the words we use are so vitally important. So as we look to how we're increasing our major gifts, how we talk about our donors, how we feel about this and how we go into those relationships. You know, a couple of tips for just this year end time of year. Maybe you're not quite sure how to reach out to somebody that either hasn't renewed or you'd like to talk to about increasing a gift at this year end time to say something like, “hey, this is Marcy, just checking in to see if there's any way I can help you accomplish a gift you'd like to make yet this year to the Boys and Girls Club.” So a couple of things about that. I'm assuming they want to give a gift, that's mindset, and I believe that they want to give a gift. And I'm saying, “I just want to be sure I'm here to help you accomplish what you want to do.” And it's a great way to start a conversation. It's also another Penelope Burke-ism is she said that it was somewhere upwards of almost 90% of people retain as much from listening to your authentic voicemail as they do from actually talking to you. So now if I call, “hello, this is Marcy from the XYZ organization. It's that time of year. How about some money? Thank you. Bye.” Well, no, that's not what I'm saying, but “hey, this is Marcy. Happy holidays. Thinking about how you love our organization and knowing you're probably planning to do something yet this year. Remember, I'm here to help you accomplish the gift you'd like to make. I'll be in touch. I'll also send this via email. Oh, and if you do want to talk back, if you want to call me back, my number is 608-772-6777. Happy holidays. Bye-bye now.” It's got to be an each and every one of those voice messages. You have to picture the person, think about the person, think about what you're doing. But it's a wonderful time of year. And don't be afraid it's too late, you know, that you've lost your chance to do it. But do in fact reach out. And those genuine relationships, of course, I'd love it if we've been being in touch, letting people know what their money does, letting know the things we've accomplished. You know, a lot of the things, Sarah, you do so well, some of those reports and those writings and that storytelling. And talking to them about the vision that we have and how their gift will make the difference. One real big difference between big donors and smaller donors is big donors want big visions. You know, “oh, we'd like to close out the operating fund. We're a little short.” Right.

Sarah: Yes. That is not inspiring at all. No.

Marcy: You know, that's not really a big vision. So having those conversations now, and I just can't say enough about in all of the things going on now. And I'd be interested in your thoughts on this, Sarah. But I think what's going to distinguish a really successful major gift program and professional now versus 10 years ago is how authentic are you really? Because there's, you know, there's AI that can literally impersonate your voice. You know, the fact that you can build trust and be authentic with your donors and genuinely care about them finding something that brings them joy and meaning in their giving, that's going to separate those who are successful from those who can come in and, and I'm going to use these words intentionally, terrible words, “pick off the low hanging fruit”, but they aren't going to be the folks that can sustain, continued and lifelong major giving to your organization.

Sarah: Yeah, I agree a hundred percent. And people in this day and age, people want relationships, especially coming out of COVID where so many people felt isolated. And they didn't feel connected to causes they care about. And I think people are really yearning for those connections and especially with the silver tsunami going on with so many boomers looking to make an impact in their retirement years. You've got the rise of donor advised funds, you've got impact giving. So you've got a whole bunch of people who are primed to make a major gift and are looking to make a major gift. So it goes back to what you were saying. You know, this is why we need to know our donors, because if they care about our cause, then they're going to be teed up in the right way to move up the giving ladder and give more. And I'm curious if there's any statistics you know about this, but I would assume there's a strong correlation between somebody who gives you a major gift and somebody who leaves you a bequest in their estate. Do you know if there's a correlation?

Marcy: I think when somebody even makes an annual gift, you know, even begins an investment, it begins an idea of that. But in that major gift relationship building process, there are often times when it brings up another really good point. And that is back to these vibrant options for giving. They need to be things that they're I find that this will kind of answer your question, Sarah. There's a little bit of a roundabout way. So stay with me. But as we define those vibrant options for giving. They come from two places. One is what's your long range strategic plan? So if you you know, your investment in us is leading us this way. Right. Or it's what do you need out of your operating fund that dollars can help with? And that's how do we be the best we can be right now? So when you're talking to donors, I like to start and I don't know if you can see me here enough, but if you think being, you know, having their hands up like this, I like to first start with these questions that say, you know, when you think about investing in something that's important to you, do you want to make a difference like right now, tomorrow? You want your money to go and do something right now? Or do you really want to see this organization stabilized and and set up to be wildly successful in the future? And that's kind of that first question. And then you can go into with that knowledge. Here are some opportunities for you to invest in that either right now or are something that will be longer term. Well, those evergreen things that go on forever and ever and give you that stability and sustainability. Those are the perfect things to say. And if that's something that's that's not something you're able to do right now, it's the perfect thing to add to your estate plan because it will always be vitally important in the work we do. Or it will lead us to the incredible future we see for ourselves. And long story short, to me, moves management, which is a term Dave Dunlop was one of my coaches, and he never meant moves management to get to be as manipulative as it got. That wasn't the vision. The vision was more you start out long term or immediate, and then here are different buckets that you can invest in, a lot of times their facilities, staff programs, the recipients of our service or the need is greatest. And you come down to the one that's dearest to their heart. And that's really what you're trying to accomplish in that conversation. So you can say, you know, you've been such a loyal friend and supporter of ours. You understand why this portents and program or whatever it is, is important. Would you consider a $125,000 gift to do X with it? So it's really fun when you feel those donors will tell you. They will tell you where they want to give. They will tell you what's important to them. If you will listen.

Sarah: Yeah. And that's, I mean, even in my own philanthropic experience. You know, when Boston university school, social work approached me about creating a prize fund for students. There's a history, a long history of social workers. You know, kind of. So you have to do your field placement two to three days a week, depending on your field. You have to do your first year and second year. And it's social workers training other social workers because somebody trained them. Right. So there's this long history of taking on the next generation of social workers and taking them under your wing and mentoring them. And, you know, I also know that social workers don't make a lot of money. And so I wanted to make it a easier for students to go to a school like Boston university, which isn't cheap and also graduate with a little bit less debt. I mean, I'm not. I'm not making life changing gifts through my fund yet, but if that was my intention is this, I want to perpetuate this history of giving to the next generation of social workers and helping them out. And so the person who asked me to make that leap knew that about me, you know, and so like you have been saying, it gave me joy. I was flattered to be asked that they thought I could give it that level. I was like, “oh, ha ha. Isn't that funny?” And then they like broke it down to a monthly basis. I'm like, “oh, I can do that.” Even though the initial number felt very overwhelming, I was like, “what?”, but they knew that that was something that was deep in my heart and that I do really identify as a social worker and that I love the field and I want to help. And so it was it was great and it did bring me joy and it continues every year. I get a letter from the student that got the prize fund. And I get that letter and it renews my joy. You know, it's like it makes me feel so good that I'm doing something. And then I get this lovely letter that just affirms, you know, it's like after purchase affirmation. Right. It just but it does it. It ignites that joy all over again.

Marcy: Yeah, that was a wonderful story, Sarah. And it also I mean, of course, I have those things that I support as well. And yeah, it's probably another thing I think you and I would both agree on is that all of the the folks that want to ask others for major gifts need to do their own giving first.

Sarah: Absolutely.

Marcy: And in a way that feels major to them. So we've kind of circled back to where we started our conversation today with “what is a major gift”, and you were just defining that for you. That was you know, that was an eye batting first hole.

Sarah: Right. Like, what?

Marcy: And so for you, that was a major gift.

Sarah: Yeah. So if people, you know, we're we're like on the cusp of giving season, you know, 30% of donations happen in December. Right. So I love that you were saying it's not too late. It's never too late. So what can people do right now to boost, you know, however they're going to define major giving in their organization? What are a few things they can do to get started? Right now and and bring in some of these major gifts by year end?

Marcy: Okay. Well, let me put it into some steps. So I guess the first thing would be “get your mindset straight.” So start telling yourself things like I am wildly excited about raising major gifts. My organization is worthy of people's support. I know that I need to ask people. I know they want to hear from me now. I know that I can help them find a gift that brings them joy. So work on your own mindset right now, because that's the first thing. How you walk in the room or sound on that phone is huge because that what we think about is what we feel and that influences our actions. Then at this point of the year. Yeah. Mid November, I would say that we also, It would be great if we could look and do a little a little research on at least who gave last year and hasn't given this year because I would want to start with people who have already raised their hand and said “you're important to me. I've given to you before and I would love to reach out to them first.” I think, you know, even even maybe as far down as $500, but to really look at them and on up and to really say “you've been so important to us. You know, clearly you have a heart for us. We've had such an incredible year. I would love to do. I would, you know, know that I'm here to help you accomplish the giving you'd still like to do this year” and get that message out there. Just set yourself down, put some time on the calendar to first out. Find who are those last year's but not this year's givers and set yourself down and pick up the phone and send out those emails and just do it. Log off two hours a day and go through as many names as you can. That's the second thing. So get your phone. Get your mind straight. Call all those last year, but not this year. Then the third group I would just look at is people who have the potential to give major gifts but haven't at this point. And I would again start out by saying that you're, you know, you're excited with all of the great things happening this time of year. Happy holidays. And you just feel that your organization is something that would be meaningful to them. And you would love to have an opportunity to talk to them about what that might look like for them. I think at this time of year, it's important to, it's important to offer to help them make the gift that's important to them. And certainly that would be one, two, three, four. The fourth thing is I do think this time of year, it's important to understand that the annual fund has a role in major gifts. So what the annual fund is doing for us right now is just reminding, “oh, yeah, the Salvation Army. Oh, the, you know, the Humane Society. Oh…” so be sure that you've got your annual fund program in place. And Sarah, I heard you talk about good and things to write in those year-end letters. But make sure that year-end letter is going out. And I like to, and it's not too late to do it, send out a thank you postcard about this time of year that just says thank you. My most popular one of all times was one that said, “thank you for the moments you make possible.” That's all it said.

Sarah: Oh, I love that.

Marcy: It's strictly a thank. But get that thank you one out. And make sure you've got a series of emails and Facebook posts and things that, things that, you know, remind people that they can support the organization. Yes, I understand those specifically don't talk about major gifts. But when you make those calls, they're also going to be, “oh, yeah, that's right. I just saw that email.” Or, “oh, right, I just got that letter.” And I think that it's a, it helps you be more front of mind with them. And then lastly, I think the last thing would be to think about, to just sit back and think about who are the people that are truly most likely to give. And you might find them in your other lists. But sit back and think about more than just a phone call and hoping you can get something started. But a more thoughtful approach to how to reconnect with somebody who maybe has not given yet this year and really feels. Or you've talked to earlier in the year. You started along them considering a major gift. But it hasn't quite happened. And again, now your message always picks up on the theme of, “I know that you're trying to do something by the end of the year, and I'm here to help you make it happen.” And then I can just say, “go for it, go for it, go for it.” I mean, now is our time of year to really, you know, to really just embrace the opportunity to bring support into our organizations.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you provided us with those steps. So thank you so much. Yeah, we're clearly going to have to have you back for part two of all this, because we just barely scratched the surface. But I just want to thank you so much for joining us today and giving people these really important tips on the best way to start moving towards major gifts. And you're right, it all starts right here. You know, before… I did some... I've done a whole bunch of money work over the years, but one of the things I tripped across early in my career was that I had this internalized belief that people who had more money than me were jerks. So, of course, I don't want to be a jerk. I'm a nice person, right? So then I was undermining my own financial stuff. So there's all these beliefs running around our heads that we don't even know. So I think that's a really, really important place to start. And sometimes, you know, I was shocked and horrified that that was... In my head. But, yeah, mindset makes such a difference when it comes to fundraising. So thank you for raising that as an issue. Yeah.

Marcy: Yeah. I think I would, you know, I would say to remember that it's not the size of the problem. It's the size of you. And are you mini me, mini me? Or are you going to grow bigger than your problem? Yeah. And you can do that. And to understand and to own that you create your life. And to let that blame game go and it's not your boss or your donor or your board that, you know, you have the opportunity to decide what you're going to do each and every day. And probably, I want to just, I want to say, and I don't know if I have it. Well, I'll just paraphrase it as best I can. It's not how many doors are open to you this time of year. It's how many are brave enough to walk through.

Sarah: I love that.

Marcy: And Sarah, I think you and I would send out to all of the folks that are within earshot of us that we believe they're brave.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, working in the nonprofit sector is not for the lily-livered, right? Yeah. I think anybody that's in the sector is already brave and courageous and doing amazing work. So yeah, I think you're right. I think most people do have what it takes to walk through the door. Yeah.

Marcy: Yeah.

Sarah: Any closing words of wisdom before we close down for the afternoon?

Marcy: Well, if I have a few more minutes, I'm always going to, I'm always, well, that's my school bell.

Sarah: Yes, right.

Marcy: Let me think here. What would I want to add to this? I guess what I would also add to all of this is, is I would add the, and you've all heard this before, so I'm just going to echo it. And that is baby steps. Don't think you're going to go from, you know, zero to 10,000 in overnight. And to know that as many of us do, if you wear 10,000 hats in your nonprofit, you know, when I, when I do a lot of my major gift training, the first question I'll ask is how many of you are full-time major gift officers? Well, they, you know, not a lot of hands go up. People are doing that in events or that and managing teams or that in the annual fund, you know, so it's like, it's all of these things mixed in together with what they're doing. But if you can even sort out. And maybe another thing that I haven't spent enough time on is this time of year is all about being grateful. So be sure that even if you aren't in a spot to launch a major gift at this time, be grateful for what they've done with your organization in the past and share that gratitude and just get on the phone and call any of your donors and say, “thank you for being a part of our family.” And make sure that that's not a thank you ask, say thank you and shut up.

Sarah: Yeah.

Marcy: Thank you so much. Have a wonderful and blessed holiday season. And thank you for making what we do happen or part of us, whatever you, whatever you say. And of course, these things vary depending on the organization, but I would close by just saying, take baby steps. Put out a little bit of time in each week to start these conversations. Be grateful for the gifts you've already gotten. Get clearer on what exactly you're asking for money for. Help your board take baby steps with you. And just, just enjoy the power and joy of philanthropy. Really embrace the idea that you get to give somebody the opportunity to invest in a way that brings them joy. And that's, that's, that's why we do what we do.

Sarah: Yes it is.

Marcy: So I thank them all for being part of this honorable, and noble profession. We have a calling, not a job.

Sarah: Exactly.

Marcy: And to have a happy and wonderful holiday, even with all of the major gifts we're doing.

Sarah: Well, thanks again, Marcy. I really, I adore you and I appreciate that you came on the show. And yeah, and I want you to have a lovely holiday season. And also you guys. Marcy is in a band, which is why she was singing to us earlier so I'm sure you have a lot of gigs coming up as well, but yeah, yeah, I know. Right. Get your roller skates on girl. All right. Well, thanks so much, Marcy.

Marcy: Thank you Sarah.

Sarah: And we'll have you back again in the new year to talk more about major gifts.

Marcy: Thank you so much. A delight to be with you. Thanks. Bye.

Sarah: Bye.

Thanks for tuning in. I'll be back in two weeks with another episode. Got topics you want me to cover? Organizations you want me to showcase? Let me know. Also, I'm here to help you revolutionize philanthropy at your nonprofit. If you want to talk about what that looks like, drop me an email.

You can watch the full episode on YouTube or listen to Spotify.


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