Conference Roundup: Major-Gift Fundraising for Anyone
Major-gifts fundraising is as much a mind-set as it is a set of strategies and techniques, says Marshall Ginn, principal and founder of Viriginia-based consultancy Capital Development Strategies. As such, it’s an attainable goal for nonprofits of all sizes.
“Many steps require little to no financial cost — just an investment of time,” Ginn said during the session “Holistic Approach to Major Gifts” at the 2008 Bridge Conference held last week in Washington, D.C.
When it comes to major-gifts fundraising, it’s important to remember that everyone in the organization should play a role, and that you don’t need to have a major-gifts officer to make it happen.
But fundraisers do need to stop approaching major giving like it’s just about getting donors to upgrade.
“Major gifts encompasses more than just the solicitations,” Ginn said. “It’s a way of interacting with your best donors and those you’d like to be your best donors.”
And it’s a way to bring donors “along a path that leads to lifelong giving” to your organization.
Though any organization can have a major-gifts program, there are some realities to be considered, Ginn said, adding, “Major gifts don’t happen by [themselves. They take] scheduling and discipline.”
An organization’s major-gifts schedule should look something like this, he explained: 18 to 24 months from first contact to gift; seven to eight contacts per donor; and one major gift for every three to four prospects. Small steps are key to getting a major-gifts program started, Ginn said, suggesting that organizations:
* get new donors thinking about larger gifts by sending out welcome packets that include client stories, “ways to give” sheets, a business card, a recent newsletter, and a small token like a bookmark, photo or postcard;
* designate someone to thank major donors by phone the day their checks arrive; and
* send thank-you letters within a week.