Why Major Gift Fundraising?

Some of my clients are small organizations (less than $1M). I work with them to diversify their revenue, create strategic fundraising plans and engage their Board in fundraising, among other activities. I think EVERY nonprofit needs major gift program…organization size does not matter.

Major gifts are given by individuals who have interest, involvement and capacity to give more. Major gifts require one-on-one cultivation and solicitation v. the annual fund donor who generously replies to an appeal. Major gifts are in the middle of the fundraising pyramid. Major donors are those 20% who give 80% of your gifts. EVERY nonprofit needs individual major donors. You have to start somewhere – instead of drooling over organizations who already have “all the rich people in town.”

How you define what a major donor is for your organization depends on your donor base. At large institutions, major donor cultivation begins at $100,000. At a community-based nonprofit, a major donor can be someone who gives $250 or more. Major gifts are significant to the donor and organization – everything is relative. Some gifts are stretch gifts for the donor and can be given over time.

Key to determining who your major donors are or could be is reviewing your database. What does your fundraising pyramid look like? Who’s at the top of the base and who’s in the middle moving up already? In addition, you need to have the people power to cultivate and solicit your major donors one-on-one. In major gift fundraising, you have a few who give more. So you need to find the number of donors you can cultivate individually throughout the year. Think: more quality interaction than quantity.

Engaging your Board, staff and leadership in major gift cultivation and solicitation can be the key to success. More on that in the next post.

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