Major Gifts

A Major Plus for Major Gifts
June 1, 2006

Many organizations have successfully used the Internet for direct-response and special-events fundraising, but few have tapped its potential for major giving. The question nonprofit professionals should ask is whether online marketing and constituent relationship management can support major-donor identification and cultivation.

Historically, major-gift efforts primarily have sourced donors two ways: referrals from key donors and board members; and direct-mail programs.

The "Up and Out" Fallacy
March 1, 2006

I’ve heard the explanation so many times now that I’m sick of it. It goes something like this: “When our direct-mail donors give more than $1,000 in a single year, we move them out of the regular mail program and over to the upper-level or even the major-donor program. They deserve special treatment.”

The dollar threshold might be different from organization to organization, but the underlying thinking is the same: Once donors reach a certain giving level, they need to be “protected” from the regular direct-mail appeal program.

2006--The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
December 28, 2005

2006: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly FS Advisor: Jan. 3, 2006 By Abny Santicola, associate editor, FundRaising Success An increase in accountability and a decrease in government funding are just two of the major challenges that nonprofits will face in 2006, according to Anthony Knerr, founder and managing director of New York-based nonprofit strategic consultancy Anthony Knerr & Associates, which works with nonprofit organizations on issues of strategic positioning, program development and global campaigns. Here, Knerr’s take on some hot-button issues looming on the horizon for the new year: Accountability and transparency: “I think there’s going to be more demand for and

Worth The Gamble
November 1, 2005

Las Vegas: known for its high rollers, Elvis impersonators, and Siegfried and Roy. But now the glitzy city also is attracting attention for a major philanthropic success.


My Big, Fat, Greek Donor Base
October 1, 2005

Universities traditionally have the most luck in their development strategies among people with close ties to the school — such as alumni and parents of students. But a concerted effort to solicit donations within the community (regardless of its educational ties to the college) has brought to fruition a philosophy professor’s dream of the University of California, San Diego, becoming a world-class leader in Greek studies.

Why Them and Not Us?
September 1, 2005

I just read about Harvard receiving another eight-figure gift, substantially adding to its huge endowment coffers. And here you are, a development officer for a venerable institution, wondering what it is about Harvard that enables it to habitually attract such large gifts. As a consultant, I encounter this wonderment from my clients regularly. So I’ve begun asking the people who make those large gifts.

"What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate"
July 19, 2005

“What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate” FS Advisor: July 19, 2005 By Margaret Battistelli, editor, FundRaising Success With apologies to Paul Newman’s character in “Cool Hand Luke,” that famous line could underscore the major deficiency that plagues many major-gifts appeals. In their AFP Fund Raising Day New York session, “Social Styles: Increasing Effective Personal Communications for Fundraising,” presenters Andrea Kihlstedt and Michael Page Miller stressed the importance of understanding the personality type of a potential major-gift donor before even attempting an ask. To simplify the task, consultants Kihlstedt and Miller educated attendees on the various social styles that fundraisers might encounter

Driving Home the Point
June 1, 2005

Sitting squarely in the upper echelon of effective and highly respected nonprofit organizations, the Texas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. For the past decade, the nationally acclaimed drunken-driving education organization has held steady as a $47 million charity fueled in large part by direct-mail fundraising.

An impressive number, by anyone’s standards. But MADD’s top dogs read “steady” to mean “static” and decided a few years ago that the organization needed a major kick in the fundraising pants. Enter Bobby Heard, who took over as national director of programs and development in 2002.

Soliciting Major Gifts?
June 1, 2005

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.

Building Houses, Building Hope
January 1, 2005

“If we’re going to eradicate substandard housing from the face of the earth, we need to be focused and organized.”

So says John Cerniglia from Habitat for Humanity International, which has been providing affordable housing to low-income families since 1976.

And he means it. His word choices sometimes make a face-to-face visit to a major donor sound more like a covert operation for Mission Impossible’s Ethan Hunt than a friendly chat between board member and prospect.