Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5 Major Gift Ideas

Now that you’re convinced a major gift program is the cornerstone to an effective fundraising strategy, let’s share some ideas for what your program could look like:

1. Launch a (removable) donor wall in your lobby to recognize annual giving above a pre-designated amount. For instance, if your average gift is $50 and the top 20% of your donors give $500 and higher, make $500 the minimum for listing.

Quick case study: We had one client that employed this like gangbusters; during Q4 of their fiscal year, they sent an appeal to all donors the past year who gave at least $500, sharing that the donor wall printing was coming up and they hoped to include that donor. It was a terrific solution to sluggish summer giving.

2. Or, adjust your donor wall upward based on cumulative giving.

3. Create specific ‘benefits’ for major donors. Customize based on your resources and assets, but good ones we’ve seen include: website listing, (e-)newsletter listing, naming this group, donor wall, freebie invitation to signature events for the highest giving levels and a major gifts-only reception/event/activity/engagement (exclusive lunch with the founder/visible and popular Board Member).

4. Make sure to let higher level annual fund donors know about your major gifts program. If your major gift program begins at $500, share your major gift program with your $250-$499 donors.

5. Further stratify and re-think qualifications annually. For instance, $500 may start your major gifts program, but if your single largest donor contributes $7,500, you’ll need additional recognition opportunities for that donor and others near that level.

Additionally, re-run your 20% donors/80% revenue analysis each year; you may find your top 20% of donors shifts to $750 and you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

You may want to wait until that trend occurs for two years – and, secure buy-in from Board and Major Donor Solicitors before simply changing.

But, be proactive and aware of such changes, as you succeed with major gift fundraising!