Giving Compass' Take:
- This author shares their expertise on how to start and operate a major gifts program within the nonprofit sector.
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A person doesn’t have to like asking for money to be able to do it. Some of the most successful fundraisers I know have confessed that they always feel anxious when asking for money. But they do it anyway. Sometimes their nervousness makes them prepare more thoroughly for the solicitation and feel even better about themselves and their group after they complete it.
Once it becomes part of the organizational culture to always have a cross-section of board, staff and volunteers who ask for large gifts, you then need a system for identifying prospects and regularly soliciting such gifts. That system is a major gifts program.
Before beginning a major gifts program, your organization must make a number of decisions:
Getting Over My Own Fear of Asking: I have found the best way to be the most comfortable with asking is to feel confident that I have made a significant gift, not just of my time, but also of my own money, before asking for a major gift.
Setting a Goal: The first step in seeking major gifts is to decide how much money you want to raise from major donors. This amount will be related to the overall amount you want to raise from all your individual donors and can be partly determined on the basis of the following information.
Deciding How Many Gifts and What Size: For the money needed annually from individual donors, you need one gift equal to 10 percent or more of the goal, two gifts equal to 10 percent (5 percent each) or more of the goal, and four to six gifts providing the next 10 percent of the goal.
How Many People to Ask: For major gifts, the expected response rate is that 50 percent of prospects will say yes to making a gift when the gift is requested by someone who knows the potential donor, knows that that prospect believes in the cause, and feels reasonably certain that the prospect could give the amount of money being asked.