The Summer of Major Gifts

major donors major gifts

Is the summer season of vacation home getaways to the lake, mountain, vineyard or coast making face time with your major donors elusive? As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Yes, join them on vacation!

Consider planning a few days away to a destination where you have a concentration of donors with summer homes. You’ll find it’s well worth a tank of gas and the cost of a couple of hotel night stays.

Pick a few dates, and let your donors know you’ll be in their area. Most donors are happy to meet over lunch or a glass of iced tea, while you bring them up-to-date on the work of your organization.

Go prepared with a list of your organization’s top accomplishments year-to-date, as well as some of the challenges you’re facing right now. Be ready for the question, “What do you need?” And of course, be willing to share a few inspiring stories of lives changed, thanks to their generosity. This is the perfect setting to begin conversations about that upcoming capital campaign or matching gift opportunities for your year-end appeal.

You’ll notice how relaxed and open they are during this well-deserved respite. Without the usual routine of work and shuttling children to school and extracurricular activities, you can begin to explore their philanthropic motivations more deeply.

Some of my favorite questions to ask are, “What do you want to accomplish with your philanthropy?” or “Tell me about the most meaningful charitable gift you ever gave, and why.”

On more than one occasion, major donors have taken my planned visit as an opportunity to host a small, intimate gathering in their home or club to introduce our work to their vacation home friends and neighbors.

Book yourself solid with morning coffee, lunch, and dinner meetings—and don’t forget sunset cocktails! As a result, watch as relationships are strengthened, introductions are made and generosity flourishes. Who knows, this may just become the best summer of your career!


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