Not All Large Gifts Are Major Gifts: Part Three – Real Major Gift Fundraising

Sections of this topic

    Hopefully, over the last two weeks, you haven’t been cold calling, cold writing, sending “surprise” invitations or making “cold” visits to people who may or may not have been major gifts prospects. With that in mind, we’ll finish making the distinction between a “large” gift and a “major gift.”

    If the person who suggested the “prospect” was close to him/her, just knew him/her in passing, knew him/her as someone who made large gifts to (local/similar) “charities,” or saw his/her name in some organization’s annual report, you must take that into consideration and make judgments as to whether this person is a “real prospect” — or just someone you wish was a prospect, and if it is worth making an investment — using resources that might be used more productively elsewhere.

    Look at the time/energy/anticipation that you’ve put into this “drop-everything” effort — the time you took writing, calling, putting together those “nobody-reads-them-anyway” packets of materials, then writing and calling some more. Ask yourself if you could have made better use of your time/effort.

    Does all this sounds familiar? Have you found yourself “dropping everything” because someone dropped a name? Have you experienced the frustration of getting “little” or nothing for all the efforts spent on that dropped name?

    Would you like to be able to stay focused on “developing” those major gift prospects who give those major gifts?

    If so, take some time to review our definitions: “What is a Major Gift,” and “Who Is A Major Gift Prospect.”

    Then, next time someone says you have to drop everything to go after some of that “guaranteed” money, ask yourself (and the name-dropper) if that individual meets the criteria, and if s/he then merits a change in your priorities.

    A single major gift does not a Major Gifts Program make!! And, you can’t have a “program” if you don’t have a series of activities, a process, that defines the program.

    Development is about building/enhancing/maintaining relationships in order to be able to attain fundraising goals. Make the investment in cultivating and involving prospects. Get them to a point where, when you ask for the gift, it won’t be “go away money.”

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