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Creating Compelling Donor Proposals for Major Gift Success

Donor proposals may seem difficult to create, but when done well they make a compelling case for supporting your cause. You may think a proposal is unnecessary for encouraging your donors to make a major cash gift to your organization. However, cash gift donor proposals can create the opportunity for your supporters to make a big commitment to your cause.

Getting Started

Branding and customization are keys to making a cash gift donor proposal compelling. When getting started with your proposal, the first step is to gather your organization’s colors, logos and contact information. Customizing a proposal with these things will immediately grab your donors’ attention. You will also want to prepare a few sets of images. Mission-based images showcase your work in action and evoke emotions in your supporters which encourages them to give. Having sets of mission-based images ready to place into proposals will save you a lot of time and create consistency among your staff if you have several major gift officers creating proposals.

Prepare Your Donor Records

Review your pipeline of donors to identify who has a strong relationship with your nonprofit and may be interested in making a future major gift. When it comes time to create a proposal for those donors, their information will be ready. Note that for cash gifts, you generally need to be prepared with a donor’s income tax rate and property value to include the donation amount you are seeking in the proposal.

Gather Case Studies

It is important to create or gather stories of prior gifts made to your organization and have these stories ready to insert into your proposals. Impact stories are powerful and should be incorporated into your gift proposals. You can start creating templates that are fully customized, including your images targeted to particular donors or a certain campaign, powerful stories and branding. Once your templates are created, you can generate a PDF of the proposal, print it on high quality paper and prepare to meet with your donor.

Branding Levels

Setup is half the battle in developing an effective donor proposal. Every organization is unique and has its own challenges, but there are various levels of customization you can add to your cash gift donor proposals depending on your time constraints and resources.

Level 1

This level involves replacing images and some of the text in a stock print piece. If you do not have time to modify the text, change out the photos to reflect the project you are supporting with this potential gift. Visuals are a very important component in customization. Images show your donors what or who they will be supporting and can help them feel more connected to your organization and mission.

Level 2

Level two involves changing out the images and tailoring more of the text. This could include customizing the title to be more compelling and adding a testimonial that provides impact. It is not much extra work to go from level one to level two! Using mission text and stories helps to draw in your donors to the great things they could be supporting.

Level 3

A proposal of this level is the most comprehensive and requires an extra time commitment. A level three proposal is customized specifically for a particular donor and includes imagery and stories reflecting the charitable passions of the donor. This level is usually the most effective at reaching your donors because you have tailored the proposal specifically for the donor’s interests.

Depending on the time you have available, you can decide which level of customization will work best for you and your organization. If you have questions about creating compelling cash gift donor proposals, please contact Crescendo at 800-858-9154.


Emily Anderson

By Emily Anderson
Integrated Marketing Coordinator, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

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