Major Gift Fundraising: How One Nonprofit Garners Attention In Guatemala

The team at Mayanza is continuously improving their major gift fundraising. See how their tips—from planning campaigns to sending thanks—can help you reach major donors, too.

Jami Smith

CEO and Co-Founder of Mayanza

Who She Is:

Both a dreamer and a planner, Jami was first introduced to the community of Santiago in 2013 as part of a medical team. She has returned every year since, working with a dedicated team to provide education and supplies for improved health of the community. She dreams of a time when everyone has access to quality health resources and plans for projects to improve the health of the community. She is grateful to be part of this team working to improve health outcomes for the community of Santiago. Jami is a physician assistant with clinical experience in emergency medicine and currently is the Director of Didactic Education in the Delaware Valley University PA Program.

Q: Tell us about your organization and its mission.

A: Mayanza was founded in 2017, and our mission is to improve the health of Guatemala’s communities through health education, empowerment, and economic sustainability. We focus on preventive health education and providing health resources for school children and vulnerable mothers.

Q: How does your organization define major giving?

A: An amount over $500. These donations may come from individuals or via matching funds and grants from corporations.

Q: What is your planning process for stewarding major donors?

A: Typically, one or two board members begin working on the plan two to three months ahead of major giving dates, such as July and December. We use the Global Giving toolkit of resources to develop materials and share this information via social media and to our list of supporters.

Q: How do you identify and steward major donors?

A: For us, major donors usually come from personal connections through our community, employment, or family. We have found that sharing the story of what we do and our program outcomes helps to encourage support. This process started slowly and progressed over time as we had more success and were able to publicize our work and the community’s needs.

Q: How do you communicate your mission and stories about your work to major donors?

A: We use social media to communicate our work, as well as newsletters and email updates. Specifically for our major donors, we send a personalized letter to talk about our work and the impact their donation has made on our projects.

Q: What do you find most challenging about major gift fundraising, and how do you navigate that challenge?

A: Cultivating continued support. In a time of global hardship and need, it can be challenging to keep donors focused on your organization, projects, and mission when there are so many other projects that also need support.

It’s important to continue to communicate effectively and consistently so that your message does not get lost in all the noise.

Q: Do you have any other advice for a nonprofit just starting to steward major donors?

A: Pool your resources and brainstorm a list of any connections and potential donors. Begin by reaching out and telling your story. Over time, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish. Set reasonable goals so that you don’t become discouraged, and be sure to give your donors a meaningful, personalized thank you.

Featured Photo: COVID Response Program for Santiago by Mayanza, Inc.

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