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Cultivating Major Donors: Q&A with G.C. Murray II, Esq., DPL

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

What’s the secret to attracting major donors? Join us for our webinar, Every Fish Can Become a Whale: Major Donor Fundraising, to find out! We’re thrilled to have special guest G.C. Murray II, Esq., DPL, join us. President and Founder of the Innovative Community Engagement Foundation, G.C. will share the strategies he and his team use for finding, acquiring, and recognizing major donors. Keep reading for a special one-on-one with G.C.

G.C. founded the Innovative Community Engagement Foundation out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Established in 2014, ICE Foundation is driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support.

G.C. is an attorney specializing in association management, nonprofit optimization, and fundraising. He is nationally recognized for his volunteer work and for his legal acumen. G.C.’s consulting involves innovative strategies which enable nonprofits to develop transformational effectiveness. With a keen focus on a broad range of cutting-edge techniques, G.C. has helped multimillion dollar trade associations and nonprofits breathe new life into their organizations and see increases in revenue and membership, as well as efficiencies in resource outputting.

A head shot of G.C. Murray II, Esq., DPL
G.C. Murray II, Esq., DPL

Q&A with G.C. Murray II, Esq., DPL

Tell me a little about the ICE Foundation?

The Innovative Community Engagement Foundation, affectionately known as the “ICE” Foundation, emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. As an attorney focused on governmental affairs, nonprofit management, and business enterprising, I wanted to provide a platform for individuals, especially my fellow Millennials, to get involved in their communities without having to deal with some of the red tape that we’ve seen in other organizations.

What are some ways you recommend nonprofits find and retain major donors?

Major donor prospecting can happen in a myriad of ways. There are some basic things you can do to get a global understanding of your community and the community of donors around you. Fundamentally, each organization will want to define its perfect donor. In terms of prospecting for major donors, the best criteria usually is availability of discretionary income and funds. There are multiple signs of wealth, which often translates to ability to give, but a good starting point is housing. Housing in affluent neighborhoods or maintaining multiple real estate holdings are good indicators of discretionary income.

You can also use SEC filing reports as a method to get a better understanding of the wealth of potential donors. Another way is to look at boards that have a give/get component that aligns with what you consider to be a major gift. Major donors are often times recognized at public events so every time you go to an event which lists donors and sponsors, save a copy of that program and find out who those donors are and who you can build a relationship with. Of course, the best way is to cultivate an existing, consistent donor to give more. Whether through a large one-time gift, spreading out a bigger gift over a period, event sponsorships, or legacy gifts.

How do you get people past the fear of asking for major gifts?

The first step to getting past that fear is to be able to accept rejection. The best thing I tell people is that if you don’t make the ask, you’re going to end up with the same thing that you had going into the conversation with that donor. You must be comfortable with not getting the amount you want if you’re ever going to lose that anxiety or inhibition. And if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. They may not give you the level donation you ask for, but unless you’re grossly off with the amount or style of your ask, there are very few times a donor will no longer give you what he or she originally intended. As long as you proceed with tact, then your organization has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Join our webinar, Every Fish Can Become a Whale: Major Donor Fundraising, to hear more about how G.C. and the ICE Foundation cultivate major donors.

“First and foremost,” says Murray, “always listen to your major donors. Invite them to be part of your advisory council or offer an honorary seat on the board. In this way, you’re not tasking them with work, but recognizing their investment in your organization and valuing their input.”

3 Secrets to Major Donor Cultivation

Make sure you have a donor management system so you can accurately track your donors and their participation. Align your major donors with your best staff members, volunteers, most active board members, or highest ranking board members. Pair these people up as your major donor’s primary contact for more personalized attention. Connect your best and brightest advocates to your biggest donors to further relationships and put yourself in the best position to get the major donor to donate.Constantly find ways to recognize major donors in multiple forms and fashions. Publicize them as chief sponsor for an event or program, give them VIP treatment at events, send them new merchandise as soon as it rolls out, post an interview with them on social media. For donors who wish to remain anonymous, find ways to make them feel special within your inner circle.

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