Principal Gift

Learn what a principal gift is, its significance for nonprofit operations, and strategies for effectively soliciting such gifts.
G2 Review Badge
Principal Gift

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, securing financial support from major donors is vital for organizations to fulfill their missions and create a significant impact.

One particular type of major gift that nonprofits strive to secure is the principal gift.

This glossary article defines what a principal gift is, outlines its significance for nonprofit operations, and provides strategies for effectively soliciting such gifts.

What is a principal gift?

A principal gift refers to a substantial donation given by an individual, family, foundation, or corporation to a nonprofit organization, typically totalling $1 million or more.

These gifts are characterized by their significant monetary value and their potential to transform the organization's capabilities and resources.

Principal gifts often represent a significant portion of a nonprofit's overall fundraising efforts and can fund major initiatives, capital campaigns, or the establishment of an endowment.

Importance of principal gifts

Principal gifts play a crucial role in advancing the strategic objectives of nonprofit organizations.

They provide the necessary financial resources to support large-scale projects, expand programs, enhance facilities, or launch innovative initiatives.

These gifts can significantly impact an organization's long-term sustainability, allowing it to broaden its reach, deepen its impact, and achieve transformative change within its mission area.

Solicitation strategies for principal gifts

Identify prospective donors

The first step in soliciting principal gifts is identifying potential donors who have the capacity and inclination to make significant contributions.

Conduct research to identify individuals or entities with a history of philanthropy and an alignment with your organization's mission.

Look for individuals who have a demonstrated interest in causes related to your nonprofit's work or those who have a personal connection to your cause.

Cultivate relationships

Building strong relationships with prospective donors is essential in the process of soliciting principal gifts.

Engage in personalized communication and develop a deep understanding of their philanthropic goals, interests, and values.

Foster trust and rapport by keeping them updated on the impact of their previous contributions and involving them in meaningful ways in your organization's activities.

Develop a compelling case for support

Craft a compelling case statement that clearly communicates your organization's mission, vision, and the specific project or initiative for which you are seeking a principal gift.

Emphasize the transformative impact the gift will have and articulate how it aligns with the donor's philanthropic goals and values.

Use powerful storytelling and data to illustrate the potential outcomes and the significance of their contribution.

Customize the solicitation approach

Tailor your solicitation strategy to each prospective donor, considering their communication preferences, preferred involvement level, and capacity to give.

Some donors may prefer face-to-face meetings or personalized written proposals, while others may respond better to events or peer-to-peer engagements.

Adapt your approach based on the donor's preferences and the nature of the gift being solicited.

Engage board members and volunteers

Leverage the support and influence of your organization's board members and volunteers in the solicitation process.

Engage them as ambassadors to help cultivate relationships with potential principal gift donors.

Board members can play a crucial role in making introductions, attending meetings, and providing testimonials about the organization's impact.

Stewardship and recognition

Effective stewardship is essential to maintain long-term relationships with principal gift donors.

Acknowledge their generosity promptly and meaningfully, demonstrating the impact their gift has made.

Provide regular updates on the progress of the funded project or initiative, and involve them in special events, exclusive opportunities, and recognition activities to ensure they feel valued and connected to your organization's mission.

→ Your organization cannot survive without the generosity of your donors. In this post, learn how donor engagement can help your organization retain donors and increase impact.

Closing thoughts

Principal gifts serve as transformative investments in nonprofit organizations, enabling them to achieve ambitious goals and make a lasting impact in their communities.

By understanding the concept of principal gifts and implementing effective solicitation strategies, nonprofits can cultivate relationships with prospective donors, secure significant contributions, and sustainably advance their missions.

Remember, each principal gift solicitation requires a tailored approach that recognizes the unique interests and motivations of potential donors.

By fostering strong relationships, presenting compelling cases for support, and providing meaningful stewardship, nonprofits can effectively engage donors in their vision and create lasting partnerships for the betterment of their organizations and the communities they serve.

Discover the Anedot advantage - Demo CTA Horizontal
Recession-proof Your Church Guide Cover

How to Listen and Capture Powerful Stories to Grow Your Nonprofit

Learn how to grow your nonprofit in 2024 by listening and capturing more stories of impact.
Watch the Webinar

Recent posts


Accounting procedures within nonprofits are specialized and governed by a unique set of standards. Learn more about nonprofit accounting!

Nonprofit Accounting

Accounting procedures within nonprofits are specialized and governed by a unique set of standards. Learn more about nonprofit accounting!

Grant Management Software for Nonprofits

Learn what grant management software is, its benefits for nonprofits, and best practices for selecting the most suitable software for your organization.

Donation Acknowledgment Letter

Get insights, details, and actionable steps to master the art of crafting donation acknowledgment letters.


Gain an understanding of LYBUNT and SYBUNT reports, their significance, and how they can help you optimize your fundraising efforts.

Fundraising Events

Learn how to maximize the potential of your fundraising events and create significant impact in your cause.

Capital Campaign

Learn about the anatomy of a capital campaign, and critical strategies for a successful nonprofit capital campaign!

Donation Page

Learn about the essential elements of a nonprofit donation page, and donation page best practices to achieve your nonprofit's mission!

Giving Tuesday

Learn what Giving Tuesday is, and practical steps on how nonprofits can maximize the impact of Giving Tuesday.

Board of Directors

Learn about the role, responsibilities, structure, and the unique dynamics of the board of directors in the nonprofit sector.