The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Get Ready for a Major Gifts Fundraising Attitude Adjustment

Your major gifts fundraising program offers the most bang for your fundraising budget’s buck, costing just five to 10 cents for every dollar received, versus 25 to 30 cents for annual or direct mail fundraising. The giving history in your donor management system can help you decide where to focus your limited time and resources. Pay close attention to those higher-dollar and long-term donors. They’re your best prospects.

But before you and your team head out to make that big ask, check your collective prospecting attitudes and adjust accordingly for maximum success. In our Nonprofit 911 webinar 5 Steps to Start a Major Gifts Program, nonprofit expert Gail Perry shared three ways to reframe fundraising to get everyone’s head in the game.

1. Major gifts are an investment in time and relationships.

Getting to yes with a major donor is about building relationships first and money second. Ask too soon and the donor will feel ambushed and show you the door—if you’re lucky, maybe with a small “go away” gift. Accept that you’re investing—not “spending”—time to learn about your donor and build a solid relationship. The more time you invest, the more money they’ll give to your cause.

Tip: Your donor management system offers a great snapshot of your organization’s relationship with major prospects, including important info like contact and giving history, event and volunteer participation, even their relationships with your other donors.

2. Fundraising doesn’t equal “selling.”

A lot of board members shy away from fundraising because they think it’s just a sales pitch. Or they think they need to create a fancy presentation to “sell” the donor on your cause. Remind your team that a major gift really isn’t about money. (Surprise!) It’s about welcoming that generous person into your organization so they feel like an engaged insider who loves and supports your mission.

Tip: The entire team can easily track their cultivation activities—everything from quick phone calls to daylong field trips—in your donor management system so it’s accessible to all. This helps you avoid duplicating efforts or forgetting important things like sending follow-up emails or invitations.

3. Your personal attitudes about money make a difference.

This is a big one. A million-dollar fundraising mindset means having a positive attitude about money—and the people who have it to give. Lots of us hold notions that “people with money” are different or intimidating or even unsavory. Maybe you find the whole idea of asking for money distasteful or inappropriate. It’s time to drop that baggage.

The truth is your major gift prospects are lovely people who love your cause. (You know this because you’ve spent time identifying great prospects in your donor database and building those relationships!) Just like your low-dollar donors, these folks want to make a difference in the world and feel good helping your nonprofit succeed in its mission. The only difference is they have a greater capacity for support. Your major gift request gives them the opportunity to make that difference and feel great about it.

Tip: Launching a major gifts fundraising campaign feels doable when you start small. Identify a few donors in your database who’ve given above-average annual gifts, and then begin building those relationships.

For more of Gail Perry’s excellent advice, review the on-demand presentation: 5 Steps to Start a Major Gifts Fundraising Program.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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