How to Sabotage (or Save) Your Major Gifts Program
Major gifts are where the big action is in fundraising. They are every fundraiser’s dream—because they can do so much good for your organization.
Boards, CEOs and fundraisers all want these big gifts that can fund important programs, solidify your financial base and even catapult your organization to new heights.
Everybody knows that emphasizing major gifts can turn the development offices into money-raising machines, if we can just get a major gifts program rolling.
But there’s one killer mistake that sabotages too many major gifts efforts.
It’s something that happens more often than not. And when it happens, you can pretty much forget any results from major donors.
Here’s the secret.
They leave out one absolutely essential component. They don’t have a monthly strategy session.
The Monthly Major Gifts Strategy Session
It’s a monthly check-in that makes everybody refocus, evaluate, restrategize and set the next steps with your prospective donors.
It’s a mechanism for keeping the wheels turning.
Here’s what you do at your monthly strategy session:
- Review your list of top prospects. Do you need to take some people off or add new donors who have surfaced recently?
- Review all the actions or “moves” you’ve taken in the past month with your wonderful potential donors.
- Evaluate where you stand with these important major prospects. Where are they in their cultivation process? When will they be ready to consider a gift? What has changed? What new information has risen lately? How do we need to proceed with each donor?
- Create next-step strategies for each major prospect for the coming month.
- Assign clear responsibility for the next step with each prospect. This way every person knows what his or her job is. (“I need to do what by when.”) You assign accountability.
What You Achieve With a Monthly Major Gifts Strategy Session
- You create a management mechanism. You know how many prospects are being cultivated and what the workload looks like.
- You have a structure and a format to make sure that your program is implemented and that staff takes action when it needs to.
- You can keep track of your potential projected contributions. You’ll know what kind of revenue is possible if all goes well. (YES!)
- You have a structure that brings key people together to brainstorm strategy. It’s much easier to brainstorm cultivation strategies when you are with a group of people. There is power in the team.
- You have accountability. You can be sure that before every monthly meeting, your staff (and volunteers if they are involved) will make sure they got done what they said they’d do. This, above all, is what can ensure results. Otherwise, major gifts contacts just might get waylaid to very last on everybody’s to-do list.
How Much Time?
The monthly major gifts strategy session needs about three hours a month. You have to make it routine and top priority.