Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Major Gifts?

We’re often asked by clients and prospective clients why should they start a major gifts program? Typically, we hear this from small, start-up nonprofits.

Many cannot spare the human capital needed to prepare, meet and follow up with individual donors.

We understand the importance of effectively allocating human capital assets to maximize an organization’s impact on its mission and other fundraising activities.

However, we also believe to achieve growth and sustainability goals, major gifts from individual donors are the cornerstone of any effective fundraising plan:

1. Your philanthropic sources should be aligned with industry trends: approximately 80% of giving in the U.S. is from individuals (grants– 12%, corporations – 5% and government grants – 3%). To achieve this balance – even with a modest $250,000 budget – fundraising professionals will spend hours upon hours chasing after their average gift donors ($35) or, worse yet, will seek grant funding, which is ultimately unsustainable.

2. Without a major gift program, you’re signaling to your community that $35 is a mission-critical gift. If you truly wish to expand your impact, $35 can’t remain mission-critical. To change your organization’s culture of small giving and grow beyond a grassroots movement, you must lead the way among your donors by launching a major gifts program.

3. It’s an expectations game and some donors in your community will absolutely ‘step up’ to this challenge of giving more than your average of $35 because your mission has special significance to them. Fundraising is an opportunity for donors to express their values; give your donors a vast array of opportunities.

4. Introducing and maintaining a successful major gifts program entails one of our favorite themes: segmentation. You will undoubtedly communicate with a major donor differently from a $35/annual fund donor. Such effective communication ultimately makes all donors happy.

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