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Capture the Hearts of Your Major Donors By Patrick McLaughlin

Christian Leadership Alliance

Discover how to effectively capture the hearts of your major donors.

By Patrick McLaughlin~

After 36 years in the major donor arena, I feel a bit like the Farmers Insurance commercial, “We know a lot because we have seen a lot.” According to Martin Luther, our conversion experience has three stages: Our Head, Our Heart and Our Pocketbook.  Yes, friends, mega and major donors have a head and a checkbook, but they also have a heart!  To really connect with them you need to capture their head, their heart, and in so doing you may even capture their checkbook.

So how does our ministry capture their attention, their passion, their intense interest, yea verily their heart?  TIME and LOVE are good starting points as you evaluate your major donor efforts.


The largest transformation donor request we have been involved with has been $50 million dollars.  For most everyone, I believe that would qualify as a major donor.  We invested a lot of LOVE and TIME in this relationship.

To garner the hearts of your major donors, you need to LOVE them but they also need to LOVE YOU.  How do you do that?  You invest TIME in them and invite them to spend time with you and your team.

A major donor with whom I am spending some time in the UK this week agreed to be a part of my real life story here in March of 2016.  Peter and Faith have spent TIME with their three favorite ministries.  These charities have captured their hearts as they have tackled the real issues impacting our world. “It’s not just about what they say; it’s about what they DO.”

Peter closed out my interview with two incredible statements, “I love and spend time with ministries that make today better … and who are strategic about a different and better tomorrow.”

Catch this final statement.  He said “I love these three CEO’s. I call to inquire about needs and I offer help for expanding their vision.”  He said, “LOVE and TIME are two-way streets.”  That’s commitment.

THE 6 R’S:

These Biblical, time-tested methods will be discussed at our CLA sessions:

  1. RESEARCH: Use internal and external research.  Donors may use Charity Navigators. You can use Wealth Screening.
  2. ROMANCE: LOVE and TIME issues boil down to a marriage of values: the values of your ministry and the values of the donor. Date your donors.
  3. REQUEST: Mega and Major donors want to be asked, challenged to give your request prayerful consideration.  Your straightforward, honest approach will be appreciated.
  4. RECOGNITION: Say “thank you” – genuinely.  Tell them you LOVE them!
  5. RECRUIT: If your major donors love you, they will want their friends to join them in helping your ministry.
  6. REPORT: Report the eternal impact of how you used their money. Thank them for their kindness and visible compassion.

Add one more 4-letter word to your major donor program, TIME, LOVE and … PRAY!


Patrick McLaughlin is the founder and president of The Timothy Group. Since his entry into the stewardship arena in 1981, Pat has personally assisted more than 1,600 Christian organizations with major donor programs, board training, strategic planning, and capital & annual campaigns.


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What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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