publication date: Feb 3, 2012
author/source: Fraser Green
Just about every small to medium-sized charity I talk to
struggles with major gifts. They look at the big hospitals and universities up
the street and get overwhelmed. "They've got staff and money and experience.
We've got none of that. How can we possibly do major gifts right?"
Let me start by saying that more effort on major gifts on
your part is an absolute priority! Donor pyramids are getting deeper - not
wider - these days. Smart charities are doing more with the donors they already
have. It's long been an absolute marketing principle that it's many times more
expensive to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. I think the same
principle applies to donors. To take it a step further, the most efficient way
that you can grow your revenues in today's charitable economy is to leverage
greater support from segments of your existing donor base.
To me, ramping up your major gift efforts is pretty much the
same as getting fit or losing weight. Come up with a system. Make it as simple
as possible. Take the first steps - one at a time - and then keep going! I
think the same principles apply to major gift fundraising.
When I talk with smaller charities about major gifts, I use
the metaphor of the compass. I emphasize that just as a compass with north,
south, east and west helps us navigate geographically, a different type of
compass can help you navigate your way into a successful major gift program.
Four points of major
Just as there are four points to a navigational compass, so
too are there four points to our methodology around major gifts:
for support Do you offer the prospective donor
sufficiently powerful reasons to support your campaign instead of the many
others available to her? There's no reason why your case can't be just as compelling
as that mega-charity up the street.
constituency Do you have sufficient supporters who
have both the ability and interest to make major financial commitments? You
don't need thousands of them - maybe a few dozen prospects are enough to get your
major gift program jump-started in a meaningful way.
team Do you have enough of the right people? Do they know
what they're doing? Again, you don't need all of your city's power brokers on
your board. You simply need a handful of motivated staff and volunteers who are
willing to put some effort into raising serious money!
systems This is the nitty-gritty of keeping the trains
running on time. Schedules, budgets, assignment tracking, reporting/evaluation
and tactical adjusting all fit into this critical category.
This month's tip is simple: Block out a couple of days to do
an assessment of your major gift potential. Walk through the four compass
points outlined here and apply them to your organization. Come up with a
revenue target and a deadline (make it a campaign!). Write up a plan and away
Is it hard work? Of course it is.
Will you double your organization's revenues this year if
you follow this tip? Maybe not.
But you will engage the people who care most about your cause
and begin moving the peak of your fundraising pyramid where it absolutely needs
to go - UP!!!
Fraser Green is principal and chief strategist at Good
Works, a consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage
donors at a truly human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. Fraser
welcomes your ideas, comments and criticisms about this tip. Please email him with your reactions and thoughts.