Major Gifts from Major Donors: A New Ebook

Last updated: February 27, 2019

Share Article:

Want to know more about how to find major donors and what to do after you’ve found them? Then, it’s your lucky day!

In our ebook, we’ll show you everything you need to know about major gift donors, including the three keys to more confident fundraising and major gift cultivation and solicitation. But first, let’s break down why major gifts are vital.

What is a Major Gift?

Major gifts are the largest donations your nonprofit organization receives. There is no exact amount for a major gift, and it will vary on the size and publicity of your organization.

For example, a well-established hospital would consider $100,000 to be a major gift whereas a $2,000 donation would really propel a small grassroots organization further ahead.

It is estimated that on average 88 percent of all funds come from just 12 percent of total donors. Clearly, major gift donors have a large impact on organizations of any size.

A major gift officer (MGO) should be established within your nonprofit to oversee all major donations. Larger organizations can hire a separate MGO to only handle tasks relating to major gifts while smaller nonprofits can designate a board member or executive director to play a dual role.

Major Gift Basics

How to Find a Major Gift Donor

The best way to uncover the right supporter for your nonprofit is through prospect research. Such research analyzes a variety of factors to provide you with a clear depiction of who has the ability and inclination to contribute a major donation to your cause.

Major gift donors can be characterized by a few key attributes:

  • Philanthropic Indicators: These indicate how likely a potential donor is to support your mission. Such indicators include:
    • Past giving
    • Nonprofit involvement
    • How often they support nonprofits
  • Wealth Markers: These factors will let you know if a donor has the ability to become a major supporter of your cause. Some popular wealth markers include:
    • Real estate ownership
    • Stock ownership
    • Political giving

How to Cultivate a Major Gift Prospect

Once you uncover the right donors, the next step is incorporating them in your mission. Both virtual and in-person meetings can be incorporated in your cultivation strategy. Leverage the power of livestreamed events to your benefit, just as you might an in-person gathering!

Virtual Opportunities:

  • Online auctions
  • Virtual conferences
  • Thought leadership webinars
  • Virtual mixers and cocktail hours

In-Person Opportunities:

  • Get-to-know-you visits
  • Meetings with leadership
  • Invites to VIP events
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Office tours
  • Informational luncheons

Keep in mind that the majority of in-person events can be switched to virtual with just a few tweaks. Remote gatherings are highly popular right now, and they’re easier than ever to host.

How to Start a Major Gift Program

There are some key steps to ensuring you have a successful major gift program. In addition to identifying an MGO, you need to:

  1. Get leadership on board
  2. Recruit your fundraising team
  3. Determine what a major gift amount is for your organization
  4. Conduct prospect research
  5. Establish clear and attainable goals
  6. Create a solicitation strategy
  7. Create a stewardship reward program
  8. Assess your results

Best Practices for Major Gifts

  • Host events catered to your donors

Spend time getting to know your major gift donors. Speak with them about what type of events they would like to attend and then craft your fundraisers around the answers.

Remember that virtual events are just as powerful as in-person ones, and in some cases, easier and more cost-efficient. Most in-person fundraisers can be turned virtual. Employ these in your strategy often!

  • Leverage board connections

Your board members should not only be major donors themselves, but they should also be well connected. Ask them to reach out to their family members, friends, and business associates for further major gifts.

  • Talk about returns on investment

Donors are more likely to make a contribution when they know where their money is going to. Take the time to show major gift donors the bigger picture of how their funds are aiding your mission and the community as a whole.

How to Integrate Major Gifts

Annual Giving

Annual giving is used to help strengthen existing relationships with your donors. These are the dedicated supporters that you know you can count on for a regular gift.

Planned Giving

Planned gifts are similar in that there is a strong emphasis on a lasting relationship with supporters. The main difference is that planned giving is promised at a later date, typically when the supporter passes away.

Capital Campaigns

Capital campaigns are used when a major fundraising strategy is needed to construct a building and/or acquire new equipment. There are two phases in a campaign, private and public. The majority of fundraising comes from major donors in the private phases and leads to a more successful campaign overall.

Major Gift Fundraising Tools

Fundraising Software

Since prospect research is so crucial to uncovering major gift donors, you may want to invest in a fundraising platform to perform the research for you. Not only will this help you save time and resources, but it can also help you find supporters you had not considered before.

Marketing Materials

Word of mouth is a great way to drum up support for your nonprofit. Invest in a thorough and professional-looking website with clear and defined goals, mission statements, and calls to action.

Major Gift Calculator

A major gift calculator can show you how your team should approach your overall fundraising goal. This chart will show you how many donations you’ll need at each level. For example, you may need one $100,000 gift, three $50,000 gifts, and ten $25,000 gifts.

A Donor Database

This database will be your go-to when you need to launch a new fundraiser. It consists of past donors who you can consistently count on and show how much they have given in the past, so you can feel confident you’re asking for the right major gift amount.

What Else Will Your Learn in Our Ebook?

Donating time and money for the betterment of others is a foundational part of the human experience. As nonprofits become increasingly reliant on major personal donations, however, identifying potential donors and establishing lasting relationships is paramount to fundraising success.

Since donors have varied philanthropic interests and many choices when it comes to donating, it’s up to your nonprofit to present the right gift ask to the right person at the right time.

The prospect development cycle starts with the process of identifying a potential donor and “moving” them from new prospect to major gift donor. In our FREE ebook, you will learn how the moves management process works and how a platform like iWave can help you take a brand-new prospect and guide them on the path to becoming a lifelong major gift donor.

Includes a special chapter on!

To read more – fill out the form to download the full ebook.

Written by Guest

Want a free demonstration of Kindsight’s Fundraising Intelligence Platform?

Request a Demo