Increase Fundraising ROI Through a Major-Gift Focus
In today's complex fundraising world, donors are becoming very choosy when picking institutions for their charitable donations. I remember talking to a major-gift donor who said, "Last year I gave five-figure gifts to six charities. Because of economic changes, uncertainly of government regulations and long-term health care concerns, I have good and bad news. I have decided in the future to reduce the number of charities I support. I will continue to support your organization at a larger level."
In my mind, the stakes of stewardship were just raised for our organization. Donors expect sound priorities, a logical operational plan, volunteers that engage and a solid return on investment for their donations. The development of an improved fundraising program begins with major gifts.
A major gift is a significant contribution either one time or over a multiple-year pledge to a nonprofit. What determines a major gift size depends upon the fundraising operations and maturity of the fundraising program. There is no "right" answer to this question. Many organizations base this answer on total fundraising income and an analysis of their donor bases.
You should look carefully at the history of your donors, amount of gifts they make, number of gifts made and do a net-worth study of your donors to define major-gift targets. Common sense says a small nonprofit's major-gift definition is much less than a comprehensive university with a long history and ongoing billion-dollar-plus campaign goals.
Charity Navigator notes that a 3:1 ratio, revenue to costs, or specifically spending $35 to raise $100, gives your organization an acceptable "C" fundraising grade. That organization understands each nonprofit is different. It also notes if your organization wants to have an above average ROI, you need to spend less than 20 cents of each dollar you raise on fundraising costs. You will not do this via annual-giving programs such as a special events or direct mailings.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.