Ready to Reach Your Major Gift Goals?

February 1, 2019

Recently, I've worked with several nonprofits – large and small organizations – seeking to raise more funds via major gifts. Each organization had only one (or, in one case, a half-time) development staff person, so we had to focus on efficient efforts and strategic outreach.

From our recommendations came six must-do activities to grow major gifts. If you want to reach or exceed your major gift goals, consider adopting these best practices!

  1. Spend your time wisely. If you want to attract major donors, you must spend more time on prospect cultivation, engagement, and making asks. This doesn't mean spending two days a week in meetings and lunches making asks to prospects. Time should be spent doing all the activities listed here.
  2. Identify your prospects. Sure, you've got lists of prospects galore. But do you have a solid major donor prospect list ready? I recommend your best names (most likely donors; typically those you already know and who support your mission) on your top tier major donor list and another group on a tier two list of mid-level donors who could become major donors in time. If your list is too long it'll be hard to prioritize, so keep refining names until you've got a manageable number.
  3. Create a list of engagement opportunities. From program-related events to board-hosted house parties, there are many ways to engage donors with your organization. Create a list and ask your board and volunteers to co-host or ensure they will attend. Remember to get events on calendars far in advance so there are no excuses for no shows!
  4. Focus your case and refine your message. What are you asking potential major donors to support? This is a time to think big and be bold. What will bigger donations help your organization accomplish? Define the impact you can have! Craft talking points for you and key volunteers and share with committed supporters to gauge their interest and get feedback.
  5. Build a moves management plan for each prospect. This roadmap document will have a multi-step strategy for each potential major donor that you'll be referring to all year long. Ideally, you'd create this in your database so all activities are captured in the system.
  6. Work the list. Over the course of the year, you'll find some folks need to come off, while others get progressively more engaged and will be ready for the ask. Remember, while all fundraising should be about relationship-building, major gifts is especially driven by the ties you create. Be patient and don't get discouraged.

If you want to learn more about major gifts or are interested in a complimentary 30-minute consultation call, please reach out at  We look forward to hearing from you!