(Major Gifts #3) What Board Members and Executive Management Need to Know About Major Gift Strategy

Have you ever mentioned the word “fundraising” to your board members and they start running away? How about your CEO and the executive team? How do they feel about fundraising?

Much of the squeamishness of board members and CEOs centers in the area of major gifts – working face-to-face with major donors.

But not everyone is nervous. I’m happy to report that many boards and CEO’s I’ve worked with over the years are quite curious. They want to learn more about how this most important area of fundraising works. They ask me, how exactly can we be successful with major gifts? What does it take?

So, today, I would like to share with you my outline of what board members and executive teams need to know about major gift strategy.

To address this important topic, we’ve added two special trainings for board members to our Major Gift Roadmap 2020 – and this topic is one of their favorites. Registration closes Feb 3, so if you are interested let us know now!

1. Fundraising is not about making a “pitch” to a donor.

Major gift fundraising is NOT about asking for money. It is not centered on an aggressive asking situation.

It’s so important for everyone to understand that major gift fundraising is absolutely NOT about asking.

On the contrary, we spend 90% of our time nurturing trusting relationships with our major donors. And only 10% of the time in asking conversations.

In our Major Gift Roadmap, we teach a permission-based strategy – so that the donor is in charge of the relationship and the entire process. In these cases, donors literally say to our participant organizations, “How can I help?” and “What do you need?”

In many, cases, we’ve seen donors make major gifts to our organizations without having to be asked.

This means that: when you are not so focused on the gift and the ask, you are far more successful.

2. Success with major donors takes a long term, consistent effort.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build a trusting relationship with the donor. They have to know you and like you – and trust you.

It takes time to develop these relationships, and you can’t rush it. Mega major gifts come from long term happy relationships with donors who know you, love you and who believe in your mission.

This means that: you can’t expect a fundraiser to come in out of the blue and immediately work miracles. They have to have something to work with.

3. Investing in fundraising makes money for you. It’s a profit center, not a cost center.

Fundraising costs are NOT a black hole into which you pour money.

Instead, every dollar you spend in fundraising actually pays for itself – and brings in a multiple dollar return on your investment.

This means that: generally, investing one dollar in major gift fundraising will probably yield 10 dollars back. We’ll talk about the ROI of fundraising tomorrow.

4. Events are the least efficient way to raise money. Working with major donors who make major gifts is the most efficient.

Smart nonprofit folks need to consider how much an event will cost in terms of time, money and effort, vs the amount of funding it will bring in.

The return on your investment from an event is typically 50%. Half of what you raise is eaten up with costs. Events are not an effective way to raise money.

The return on individual donor fundraising is much higher, only costing five-10 cents on each dollar raised.

This means that: when you invest in major gifts, then you will have an opportunity to get about a 10-1 return on your investment.

5. Everyone in the organization can help in major gift fundraising, without having to ask.

There are many roles board members and program staffers can play in building happy relationships with major donors. When fundraising is celebrated as an important and mission-centric activity, such that everyone embraces it – that’s when organization are MOST successful and raise the most money.

This means that: When the whole organization embraces and supports fund development, much more revenue flows into help expand your mission.

Don’t forget, we can help you expand your organization’s major gifts, right now, in 2020. Registration for our Major Gift Roadmap 2020 coaching program closes on February 3rd, and we begin on February 20th. We can help you develop the systems, mindset, vision, structure and processes for a long-term productive major gift program that will deliver measurable results for years.