How Major Gifts Fundraising Is Changing in 2023

Major gifts fundraising is changing today.

We are seeing new strategies emerging.  And many time-tested strategies we’ve deployed for years are now enhanced  – and are far more effective – using today’s new technologies.

In our webinar yesterday, “How Major Gifts Fundraising is Changing in 2020,” Dr. Kathryn Gamble and I discussed the art and the science of successful major gift fundraising today – and tomorrow.

Here’s an outline of the trends and new ideas that are creating more professional, far more deliberate, and much more successful approaches to donors.

The “Science” in Today’s Successful Major Gift Fundraising

Data is completely revolutionizing the way we identify and focus on prospective donors. We are impressed by the new data tools that offer new opportunities to find committed, high-net-worth donors who love you.

Here’s how data is changing fundraising today:

Data-driven prospect research and identification.

— Data analysis can identify untapped gift opportunities in your wealth screening data. (It’s harder than you think.)

— Data helps you find the most committed and generous donors in your own database with RFM (recency, frequency and monetary) analysis. (Do you have the reports you need?)

— You need data skills to analyze the wealth indicators and philanthropy markers that show up on screening reports.

Data-driven prospect management programs.

— Smart prospect management helps you optimize and protect your organization’s investment of time, money and people.

— Data helps you craft, cull, prioritize and excel with a portfolio of highly rated and qualified prospects.

— Data-driven Portfolio Management Skills can help you keep a razor sharp focus on the RIGHT prospects, not the wrong ones.

— Data helps you manage the value of your prospect and donor pipeline. This is the crystal ball of fundraising, helping you understand how much in gifts might be in play right now.

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— Prospect management skills help you analyze and measure your donor relationships. Where do you stand? Where should you focus? What is happening in your portfolio right now?

Data-driven major gift cultivation plans.

— You need to know how to interpret information (screening, gift history, contact reports, etc.) to craft realistic, actionable, effective donor strategies.

— Data helps you craft create effective donor strategies and cultivation plans.

— Use data to analyze and project a particular donor’s behavior.

— Data helps you maintain continued qualification and discovery with every donor contact.

— You’ll use data to help craft a plan for moving your donor to transformational giving.

The “Art” in Today’s Successful Major Gift Fundraising

Behavioral and relational skills are getting better defined and honed. We’re pulling new ideas and tools from behavioral economics and philanthropic psychology.

We’re defining the qualities and behaviors you need to be successful – what you might call the “soft skills.”

The art of building excellent relationships:

— How to build a friendly, yet professional relationship with a donor.

— Etiquette and behaviors expected when you are dealing with the top 1%.

— The craft of building a trusting relationship with a donor.

— The art of building cultivation strategies custom-designed for a donor’s particular interests

The art of Discovering and Qualifying donors:

— You need the right skills and approaches to open the door and get an appointment with a major gift prospect.

— Skills to master the Discovery Process: Is your donor really a prospect . . . or not?

— How to master the Qualification Process – is your donor truly interested? Does she really have capacity?

The (lost) art of listening:

— How to listen to a donor to engage them deeply. What Power Questions do you use to draw them out?

— How to listen for a donor’s cues that they have capacity and are deeply interested. We all say “listen your way to the gift.”

— Listening has been one of the huge takeaways from the board members and fundraisers alike who participated in our major gifts coaching last year. So interesting!

The art of creating inspirational conversations around big-picture ideas.

— How do you spin the web of energy around possibilities for the future. How do you create excitement?

— The trend is clear: there are more 7 figure donors out there than there are 7-figure ideas. And donors want something exciting to fund.

The art of donor-centered Permission-Based Asking.

— This is a new concept we are teaching in our Major Gifts Roadmap 2020.

— You can literally take the donor down this road step-by-step to qualify them, deepen their interest, and put an ask conversation right on the table.

Arts from behavioral economics:

— The power of peer pressure in encouraging some major donors.

— The power of a small VIP gathering – offering “social proof” that “people like us do these things.”

Bottom line: It’s time to up your major gifts game, and become far more systematized, professionalized and data-driven.

We can help you craft an expanded major gifts program.

Our Major Gifts Roadmap 2020 will give you and your team the structure, systems and skills to secure transformational gifts for your cause. Find out more here.