Fundraising: If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

Sections of this topic

    The Fundraising Appeal

    A few months ago, a NYTimes article suggested that donors are being highly selective in deciding whose name goes on the payee line of their checks. Non-Profit Organizations, therefore, must do all they can to get donors to want to give to them.

    At most times, especially in an economically “troubled climate,” donors want to be sure that their gifts are going to support/help people in need. NPOs must be sure, therefore, that their marketing, their literature and their solicitations all focus on the people in need … not on the needs of the NPO.

    And, in addition to talking about people and their needs, the best wording can also talk about how the NPO is helping those people, how cost-effective it is in its operations, and how a donor’s gift to the NPO can/will help so many people.

    Major Gifts Should Be A Priority

    It occurred to me, following a recent conversation with the executive director of an NPO on the brink of closing its doors … that many people may think of major gifts as those you pursue after you’ve done all of the other fundraising.

    The language that the E.D. used was to the effect that, “we have to be sure we can stay in business before we can think about going after major gifts.”

    I would hope that I never said anything to any client, in any of my classes or postings, that would suggest that !!

    I’ve often mentioned that many (start-up and ongoing) NPOs can (and do) create major gifts programs from scratch, and can (and do) operate quite nicely on that income.

    Certainly, in tough economic times, NPOs should be making every effort to raise funds by whatever (legal/ethical) means possible … keeping in mind that one major gift can (and often does) exceed what is raised via other methods.

    Any NPO not actively/vigorously working on obtaining major gifts is doing a disservice to the people it serves … or could serve.


    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll likely be able to answer your questions.