Major Gifts in Ten Minutes a Day

We were having coffee and my friend looked panicky.

“What’s the matter?”

“Rob, it’s nearly September and I’m not getting out.  I haven’t made a visit in a month.  My plate is so full right now I can’t imagine finding the time to get a visit.  I need a whole day, but it’s not going to happen.”

“Do you have ten minutes?

“What do you mean?  You can’t do major gift fundraising in ten minutes!”

As gently as I could, I looked my friend in the eye and said, “Of course you can.”

Pay yourself first.  For fundraisers that means making the time or, if need be, fighting for the time to get out on a visit.  If you can give yourself the gift of ten minutes, that will happen.

Think about major gift work as a series of moments.  The last ask you made?  The elapsed time between when you asked and when the prospect responded was less than a minute.  Meeting a potential donor at an event?  Five minutes.  A phone conversation just to say hello, but you know you’ll connect soon?  Ten minutes.

Is putting yourself in position to get a visit and make an ask worth ten minutes a day to you?  Yes?  Good.  First thing, turn off your phone so you can think without being distracted.


Mail a handwritten note to someone.

Make one phone call to get one visit.  (Okay, you can turn your phone back on if that works better.)

Who did you meet recently?  At a board meeting or event?  No one?  Be at your organization’s next event, helping out, so you CAN meet someone.

Make a phone call to thank someone for their gift.

Schedule your next trip, even if it’s to the other side of town, so you can tell the next person you call, “I’ll be in your neck of the woods soon, can I stop by to say hello?”

Who’s sick?  Send a card.  Whose birthday is coming up?  Ditto.

Look at last fiscal year’s list of $1,000-plus donors.  Who needs some TLC?

Commit to the next three people you’re going to try to visit.

Go find some news about your organization you can send to a donor.

Have a conversation with a “service provider” at your organization; a teacher, a social worker, a doctor.  You’d be amazed who they know.

The point is, do something.  Anything.  One little thing.  Today.

I promise that if you commit to ten minutes a day you will see results.  Visits.  Asks.  And gifts.

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