Five Steps to Building a Major Gifts Program from the Ground Up
1 October 2015 at 10:16 am
Major gifts are the “big win” in fundraising – then why don’t all organisations press forward with a major gifts program asks Gail Perry from Xponential Philanthropy in the lead up to her upcoming workshops around Australia.
Major gifts are the “big win” in fundraising. All Not for Profits hope for the large gifts that help fund important programs and solidify your financial base.
We all know that the return on your investment of time and energy is much higher in major gifts than in other types of fundraising.
Then why don’t all organisations press forward with a major gifts program?
It’s because the time and effort to develop a major gifts effort is more than many organisations can spare. People tell me they are nervous about approaching major donors. Or they don’t think they have the prospects. Sometimes the biggest roadblock is simply getting an appointment.
Others say they have serious difficulty making ‘the ask’. I feel their pain! I’ve been there too. And I can say that major gift fundraising is not for the fainthearted.
People struggle for all these reasons and more. That’s why our ‘Master the Art of Major Gift Fundraising Workshops’ are so popular. They give smart fundraisers the support they need to bring in the big gifts.
5 Very Simple Steps to Major Gifts
Here’s a great — very simple — step-by-step guide to create and implement a successful major gifts program for your organisation. Whether you are large or small, you can follow this simple blueprint:
Step One: Develop a Major Gifts Team
Major gift fundraising is a team sport, not a solo one.
If you are trying to do this all by yourself, you’re making it much harder than it needs to be. A team helps expand your contacts and bring in new information to the process.
· Enlist your CEO and selected board leaders
· Show them how much potential money is out there
· Create clear jobs for everyone: identifying, strategising, opening doors, hosting cultivation events, soliciting
· Set clear goals
· Meet with your team often to maintain momentum
Step Two: Create and Maintain a Master List of Major Gift Prospects
Your prospect list is your fundamental tool for your major gifts program.
Choose a smaller number of potential donors and work them thoroughly. Rate them on their interest level in your cause and their financial capacity.
· Start with the donors you have
· Size up their potential
· Review your prospect list with other donors – do your research.
· Track your Major Prospect List in excel or your donor database.
· Prioritise them and set next steps
Step Three: Work With Major Donor Prospects One at a Time
Don’t rush the relationship — you are exploring and getting to know your prospects.
Make them close friends of the organisation through frequent contact. Spend the face time needed to develop your relationship.
· Create an individualised cultivation plan for each person
· Create trust by doing what you say you’ll do
· Listen deeply to your donor
· Develop each relationship with the long term in mind
· Track and measure each step you take
Step Four: Create a Personalised Asking Approach for Each Major Donor Prospect
Don’t rush to the ask! You can only ask when the donor is ready.
If you spend careful time cultivating a warm relationship with your donor, then the ask will take care of itself. You need to show your donor how YOUR opportunity matches your donor’s vision.
· Get ready carefully
· Make your project exciting and compelling
· Be able to SELL your case with enthusiasm
· Test to see if your donor is ready
· Learn as much as possible about your donor’s interests, values and vision for a better world.
Step Five: Make the Ask
The ask is really seamless if you do a super job developing your relationship, listening to your donor, and warming her up.
It is just a continuation of the process, and your donor will say to you “how can I help?”
· Make the ask into a conversation
· Don’t low ball your donor – ask for the stretch gift if they are ready
· Let your donor do 50 per cent of the talking in an ask visit
· Make your project into an “opportunity”
· Add urgency: Explain why the donor should give right now
· Follow up! An ask is not an ask without follow-up!
What are your biggest challenges making your own major gifts program wildly successful?
Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, is an international fundraising consultant, trend-spotter, speaker, trainer and thought-leader. Gail is the author of the book ‘Fired-Up Fundraising’ and an international associate of Xponential Philanthropy.
Gail will be presenting her half day ‘Master the Art of Major Gift Fundraising’ workshops in:
Sydney – Friday 30th October
Brisbane – Monday 2nd November
Melbourne – Thursday 5th November
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Xponential website www.xponential.com.au or contact Xponential Philanthropy on 1300 656 931.