Are Major Gifts Annual Gifts ??

Sections of this topic

    An email raised the question as to whether “Major Gifts” should be counted in the total for the “Annual Fund.”

    I can’t help it. I have to say it, “I really hate the term, ‘Annual Fund.’” (See: The Annual Fund Is Obsolete.)

    OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest….

    By a literal definition, annual gifts are those from donors who (only) give once each year. If some people make multiple gifts during a fiscal year, and if others make gifts some years but not others, their gifts cannot be rightly called “Annual Gifts.”

    To distinguish between annual donors and Major Donors, the latter make their gifts based on a number of factors, not necessarily according to the calendar. (See: Major Gifts).

    For the former … only “lower-rated donors” are (should be) solicited for “Annual Giving.” These are donors who are likely to give relatively small amounts, and who are not likely to give more than once each year — probably because they are not asked to give more than once each year !!!!! (They are often donors who have been conditioned to think that they’re only supposed to give once each year.)


    A Fundraising Program may generate income from direct mail, telephone solicitation, grants, special events, Major Gifts and any other methodology. At the end of the fiscal year, all of that income is accounted for under whatever headings exist in an organization’s budget/accounting process.

    The totals for each methodology, then, are combined to provide a total for the year. Even though not all gifts made to the organization that year were “annual gifts,” the overall total is often referred to as “Annual Giving.”

    Some NPOs make a distinction between income raised by the usual A-F modalities and that from a Major Gifts Program; some include a Major Gifts component in the A-F; and, some make no distinction at all.

    It’s up to you (your institution) how you define “Annual Fund,” and what income you include in its total.


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