10 Strategies to Bring in Major Gift Fundraising

Discover ten strategies to bring in major gift fundraising that you can implement today!
Major gift fundraising
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Major gifts are vital components of many nonprofits –– both for one-time projects and annual budgets.

This article provides ten strategies to bring in major gift fundraising that you can implement today. 

1. Evaluate current donors 

Major gift fundraising: Evaluate current donors 

You’ve heard of the Pareto Principle: 80 percent of outcomes result from 20 percent of causes. This principle rings true for nonprofit donations as well. Roughly 80 percent of your organization’s donations come from about 20 percent of your donors. 

With this rule in mind, you can organize your current donor list into groups according to how much they currently contribute. Who meets your current “major gift” threshold? Donors who contribute the top 80 to 90 percent of your income are statistically likely to continue donating significant gifts to your nonprofit. 

Consider donors who don’t yet fall into that highest-giving category. Just because they aren’t now doesn’t mean they won’t ever. They could very well be your next great resource for major gifts. 

Focus on the donors already contributing significant gifts to your nonprofit. Work to retain their relationship and generosity. From there, prioritize engaging other donors just under the threshold for major gift giving, and consider how you can increase their financial commitments. 

2. Explore potential donor prospects 

Major gift fundraising: Explore potential donor prospects 

After you’ve secured donations from current donors, explore your potential prospects. To win meaningful and lasting support, you must target prospects that will make quality long-term donors. 

Do your research on potential partnerships.

Ask the following questions which will help you determine if the party could be a good fit for your organization: 

  • Do they have the financial capacity to give?  
  • Do they have a philanthropic history? 
  • Are they interested in your work or those you serve? 
  • Are they already connected to your nonprofit directly or through a mutual connection? 

By evaluating prospects before formulating a plan to ask, you can save time and energy by focusing only on strong leads for potential donors. 

→ Check out our podcast episode on story listening and how to better capture and tell impactful stories!

3. Identify connections with potential major gift donors 

Major gift fundraising: Identify connections with potential major gift donors 

After you’ve created your donor list, you might discover that you don’t have immediate connections with a few of your prospects. That’s not a reason to give up! 

Identify potential partnerships or connections you might have with these donors. Think about ways you can initiate the conversation. That might include finding a mutual contact who can foster a relationship between you. 

The path to cultivating relationships with major donors isn’t always straightforward. But as any nonprofit team knows, where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

4. Train your ask team 

Major gift fundraising: Train your ask team

Soliciting major gifts can be an overwhelming task. You’re asking someone to give your organization a large sum of money, which can feel intimidating. But securing these funds is essential for your operations to continue. Training your “ask” team is integral to bringing in major gift fundraising. 

Begin with inspiration: connect your team to the cause. What motivates them to partner with your organization? What excites them? And why should others join in? 

Once everyone has a solid understanding of the “why,” move to the “how.” You can give your ask team scripts or talking points. Then have them practice. The more your team can practice asking for donations, the easier and more natural it will feel when they do so with actual donors. 

Provide feedback after the practice session. Then practice again until everyone feels confident. When your team is confident to ask for donations, your donors will be confident to give generously. 

5. Personalize and tailor your appeal 

Major gift fundraising: Personalize and tailor your appeal 

Major gift donors keep your nonprofit running. Their donations are vital to the health and sustainability of what you do. And a one-size-fits-all fundraising pitch will not do. 

Each donor should be at the center of your appeal. Show them you know them. Highlight their philanthropic history, and show how their continued generosity can make a difference. 

Projects must resonate with your donors and the causes they care about. When asking your donors to give, highlight how their specific gift will impact your organization and those you serve. 

→ Learn how to set up a donation page that will inspire others to give!

6. Practice empathy

Major gift fundraising: Practice empathy

Whether your donor is an individual, a corporate representative, or a group generously offering their backing, remember that they’re more than financial support. Their humanity plays a significant role in their decisions to support your organization and how you go about soliciting gifts. 

When asking for big donations, practice empathy with your donors. You’re much more likely to get a “yes!” when you show donors that you know how they feel, even if their current feelings are leading them to say “no.” Connect with your donors by actively listening to their concerns. 

Donors want to feel heard. By listening, empathizing, and caring about your potential donors and the issues they face, you’re building deep relationships that can result in significant long-term support. 

7. Invite donors to see your work in action 

Major gift fundraising: Invite donors to see your work in action 

Your donors want to do more than write a check. Most major givers wish to see, in person, how their funding moves your mission forward. 

Invite your donors to see your nonprofit at work.

This could play out in various ways: 

  • Office visits and tours 
  • Fundraising events, like a gala 
  • Trips to visit the communities and specific locations where you serve 

You can even ask your major donors to volunteer. 

Donors want to be involved in your work. And when you bring them in for intimate experiences, like those mentioned above, they feel especially connected to your organization, team, and cause. That intimacy breeds a spirit of caring and generosity that lasts for years. 

8. Be strategic with your ask meetings

Major gift fundraising: Be strategic with your ask meetings

When it’s time to solicit major gifts, begin with your top three to five donors. As discussed above, your top givers are most likely to continue and increase their donations, so they’re the best place to begin securing funds for the following fiscal year or next significant project. 

Schedule “ask meetings” with these donors. You don’t want donors to be surprised when you ask for money –– they should know exactly what the meeting is about! Give them an idea of precisely what you’ll discuss and how their contributions will specifically influence and guide your organization. 

The meeting should be attended by at least two others from your organization, preferably a board member and your executive director (or another individual in leadership.) Ensure your prospect has already met all or most of the individuals in the meeting. This will help everyone feel more comfortable and at ease. 

→ Learn more about leading up and how to influence decision-making inside your organization!

9. Persist in asking for gifts

Major gift fundraising: Persist in asking for gifts

You should not expect every donor to commit the first (or second!) time you ask them to become a major partner. Committing to giving a significant gift is a big decision, and your fundraising team needs to be aware of this. 

However, that doesn’t mean you should always take no for an answer, especially if it’s the first answer given. 

Many times, donors want to give. They want to be generous. They simply need guidance and reassurance that your organization is the right place for them to allocate their resources. 

If you feel that a donor could be a strong support for your organization, don’t give up. Persist in asking for gifts –– in a kind, respectful, and tactful way, of course. 

10. Delight donors with reports and feedback 

Major gift fundraising: Delight donors with reports and feedback

Donor engagement and fundraising don’t end once the support is secured. Donors, especially major gift donors, want to hear how their gifts are utilized within your nonprofit. Share specifics about how your donor’s generosity has pushed forward a project, accomplished specific goals, and contributed to your success. 

This step of fundraising is crucial, especially for donor retention. Tell donors exactly how their gift is being used before asking for another. 

When donors see their generosity's impact, they will continue supporting your great work. 

Work with Anedot to make major gift fundraising easier 

Work with Anedot to make major gift fundraising easier

At Anedot, we know how important (and time-consuming!) fundraising can be for organizations and nonprofits like yours. We provide the tools you need to make giving easy for your donors and your teams.

Reach out today to learn how Anedot’s giving tools can streamline your nonprofit fundraising efforts! 

→ Looking for an online giving solution? Learn how Anedot serves organizations!

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