Soliciting Major Gifts?
The 2004 Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual survey cited two important trends. First: Large organizations once again outperformed smaller organizations in fundraising — no surprise there. Second: Major gifts and planned gifts are on the rise.
More than 80 percent of AFP’s 3,000 survey respondents said they expect revenue from major gifts and planned giving to remain strong or increase in 2005, while casting direct mail as essentially flat.
The survey also revealed that larger organizations raise more funds because they have more fundraising professionals on staff and because they invest more resources in their major-gifts and planned-giving initiatives — again, no real surprise.
As a consulting firm working with both large and small organizations, we often are hired to assess the potential for growing philanthropic revenue and recommend appropriate strategies to achieve higher performance.
Our recommendations always push for a more aggressive shift into major gifts and planned giving. A comprehensive, high-performing development program engine runs on four cylinders: annual giving, special events, major gifts and planned giving.
A development program that is running on only two cylinders could easily kick it up a notch and more than double its gift income by getting serious about major gifts and planned giving.
But the burden to cultivate large gifts rests squarely on the shoulders of your staff.
Just imagine the intensity of work, staff time and costs required to raise $5 million, relying solely on small gifts from thousands of donors through direct mail, telemarketing and special-event appeals.
One organization we’re working with does just that, and while it recognizes the need to invest in major-gifts and planned-giving initiatives, it is struggling with the shift to get there.
Board members lack experience in giving and getting; staff members lack experience in prospect research and cultivation; the CEO or executive director doesn’t spend any time working with the top prospects; and no one has had the time to learn about planned giving.