Table of Contents
Basics of Major Gifts and Major Giving
Finding Major Gift Donors
What to Look For in a Major Donor Prospect:
Philanthropic indicators speak to a prospect’s affinity for charitable work and your organization. Logically, a donor who has given in the past, who has been involved recently and frequently, and who has donated large sums over time is highly likely to donate a major gift in the future.
These indicators are what people typically think of when they consider prime candidates for major giving. Wealth markers are simply signals of someone’s financial capacity to give – just as philanthropic markers are a good indication of a prospect’s willingness to donate to charity.
Cultivating Major Gift Prospects
Cultivation is your major gift officer’s time to connect with and learn more about a prospect so their eventual solicitation is more informed.
Soliciting Major Gift Prospects
Major Donor Stewardship and Retention
Starting a Major Gift Program
Steps to Getting Started with a Major Gifts Program
1. Get leadership on board.
Major gift efforts require everyone on your team to be involved in some way, shape, or form. So you’ll need all the support from leadership that you can get.
As we mentioned earlier, a great technique for courting major donors is to introduce them to your organization’s executive director.
Plus, your leadership team likely has valuable major donor connections, since people of philanthropic interest tend to flock together!
2. Recruit your fundraising team.
In addition to having your leadership on board, you’ll also want to have board members, fundraisers, prospect researchers, and even some marketers on your team.
The success of your major gifts effort relies on having all hands on deck at any given time.
3. Determine what qualifies as a major gift at your organization.
What qualifies as a major gift will fluctuate not only from organization to organization, but also within your organization.
As you grow, your standards will naturally change. It’s important to update your standards every so often, as this standard will dictate the level of strategy given to cultivating and soliciting certain prospects over others.
4. Perform prospect research.
You might be surprised by the number of major gift prospects that you already have within your existing donor base. Prospect research is the best way to find out who among them is likely to give a major gift.
Keep in mind that you should be scouting out prospects who have:
- A proven willingness to give (a history of giving to nonprofits).
- A demonstrated capacity to give (tangible wealth markers).
If those two key factors are in alignment, there’s a high likelihood that that person could be a major gift donor.
5. Establish tangible outcomes.
When a major gift donor gives to your organization, they expect to see tangible results from that contribution.
This means that they want to see how their gifts are effecting real change.
They also might expect some kind of program perks. Incentives for donating never hurt!
For instance, if a major gift donor gives a significant contribution to your capital campaign, they may want to have the opportunity to name the building they’re helping to fund.
In either case, your donors want to know that their major gifts are being used effectively.
6. Create a solicitation strategy.
Have your prospect researchers put together profiles on your candidates with recommended asks. Then divide the profiles among your fundraising team.
Each team member should work in conjunction with your board and marketers to create the ultimate presentation for each of the prospects.
The next step is to begin the solicitation process. It’s time to make the ask!
7. Implement a stewardship program.
Major gift donors are investing a lot in your organization. It only makes sense to reciprocate.
Because there likely aren’t an overwhelming number of major gift donors within your donor pool, you can absolutely take the time to cultivate meaningful relationships with each and every one of them.
You should, of course, send out acknowledgements as you would with any other donor, but you can also take it a step further with your major gift donors by:
- Scheduling check-in calls.
- Taking the time to really get to know them.
- Finding creative ways to recognize them.
- Sending them thank yous occasionally throughout the year, even when they haven’t donated recently.
- Corresponding about topics outside of asks and acknowledgements.
Stewardship is one of the most important steps in the entire process. Make sure you have a firm plan in place for how you maintain relationships after the gift has been made.
8. Assess your results.
It’s always a good idea to evaluate key performance metrics when implementing any sort of fundraising strategy.
It’s especially important to do so when you’re going through the major gift acquisition process.
You may want to pay particular attention to:
- Gifts secured.
- Average major gift size.
- Average giving capacity (of top donors).
With these metrics in mind, you can assess your existing campaign and plan to improve your strategy in the future.
Major Gift Proposals
Major Gift Fundraising Best Practices
For Cultivating A Major Gift Donor:
For Stewarding A Major Gift Donor:
Integrating Major Gifts Into Your Fundraising Strategy
Improving Your Major Gift Program
Hiring a Major Gifts Officer
Major Gift Fundraising Tools
Major Gift Fundraising Metrics
Determining Major Donor Giving Capacity
Prospect Research: The Ultimate Guide
One of the most important tools nonprofits have at their disposal when soliciting major donors is prospect research.
Need a refresher?
Brush up on everything there is to know with our newly-updated prospect research guide!
Capital Campaigns: Understanding the Basics
Capital campaigns rely heavily on major donors in order to help them meet their fundraising goals.
As such, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of how capital campaigns work.
Check out our handy guide to learn more!
The Insider’s Guide to Major Gifts
Still feeling a little lost when it comes to all things major gifts?
Double the Donation has got you covered!
Take a look at their comprehensive insider’s guide to major gifts to get even more useful information and support!