Ensuring A Nonprofit’s Future – With Major Gifts

Sections of this topic

    Most non-profits don’t live on grants from corporations, foundations and governments, or from event generated income.

    Roughly 80% of contributed dollars come from individual donors or their estates. And the common wisdom is that at least 80% of that amount — or about two-thirds of all contributed dollars – come as major gifts from individuals.

    Planning-for-the-future, therefore, involves identifying potential sources of funding sufficient to ensure continuation or expansion of the programs that satisfy the needs of the people and the communities being served.

    Worded another way, “Ensuring future funding requires minimizing the risk of losing a large percentage of your income.”

    A major gift program is easier to design/implement and more cost effective than direct mail and the vast majority of events. Major gifts are also a more reliable source of long-term charitable funding than all others.

    So, what is a Major Gift ?

    Many Non-Profit Organizations (incorrectly) use the term “Major Gifts” to refer to those that are larger than the usual range of gifts that arrive in the mail. Typically, $1,000 is the magic number.

    But, unless an organization’s budget and/or the amount to be raised via the fundraising process is unusually small, gifts of $1,000 won’t significantly aid in pursuing financial goals.

    A Major Gift is not based upon exceeding a specific dollar figure, but requires:

    1• Amounts that will significantly help to attain fundraising goals
        — 1% or more of the goal would be significant.
    If your goal is
        $1,000,000, at $1,000 each, you’d need 1,000 gifts; and, unless
        you have the prospect base with that many donors who have given
        at that level in the past, that’s not very likely. Realistically, for a goal
        of that size, gifts of $10,000 and up are necessary.

    2• That prospects be cultivated and solicited on a face-to-face basis.
        Consistent with the concept/practice of “development,” in order to get
        donors to want to make “major” gifts, there must be a relationship
        between the donor and the person doing the asking. And that person
        must also be one of the people, in not the person, doing the cultivating
        and educating of the prospective donor.

    3• Ask amounts that are well thought out and well researched.
        When asking for ANY gift to a non-profit, it should always be for a
        specific dollar figure. For a major gift, it should be a figure based
        on the donor’s ability to give. And, you should always be able to
        give the donor a good reason “why that amount” … including how
        making that gift will satisfy his/her needs.

    4• The development and implementation of an individual plan,
        or strategy for getting each potential donor to the point where s/he is
        ready to make the gift you want him/her to make.

    Have you heard about
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks?
    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99-$4.99)
    This posting is a sample of what’s in book three of the series – Major Gifts

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating
    or expanding your fundraising program?

    We’ve been posting these pieces for the last five years,
    and we’re now at a point where, to keep this resource alive,
    we need your questions/problems to engender further discussion.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Comments & Questions


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