‘I Don’t Have Time for Major Gifts’
We recently conducted a free Q&A Webinar, and Richard and I received a ton of questions from development professionals working for smaller nonprofits who essentially ask this question:
“I’m a one-person development shop, and I do everything. I’ve been asked to get a major gift program going. I only have so many hours in a day. How do I make time for major gifts?”
This, in a nutshell, is what is plaguing small- to medium-sized nonprofits everywhere. And that means a majority of all nonprofits around the world.
At Veritus, our statement back to you before we answer your question is:
We make time for what we value!
Most nonprofits do not value major gifts and the work it takes to develop one-on-one relationships with donors. If they did, you would see everyone focusing on it. Nonprofit leaders would think nothing of investing in it because they know it brings in the most net revenue for their organization. You would have a culture of philanthropy that supported major gifts, and everyone in your organization would be willing to do what it takes to support it.
What you do value is all those events, 5K walks, signing up for Amazon Smile, sending out letters and emails to large donors, rather than meeting with them, supporting peer to peer fundraising campaigns, etc.
I’m not saying those are bad things, I’m saying that is what you value.
That is why you are so “busy” and you don’t have the time for major gifts. The result of placing so much value on everything but major gifts is that you will always live on the edge of staying alive as an organization, you will not grow your revenue and you will not be able to do all you want to do with your mission.
That is a fact because major gifts, along with planned giving, will produce the most long-term, sustaining net revenue for your nonprofit. Why? Because you are building relationships with major donors who will continue to give larger gifts as you deepen that relationship by helping the donor find joy in their giving.
The result of that is a high-return on investment.
The problem is that most of the small- and medium-sized nonprofits don’t value it. I could write forever on why you don’t value it, but the point is unless you see major gifts as a long-term source of net revenue, you won’t commit to making a major gift program work.
We have, however, witnessed some small- and medium-sized organizations make that commitment. They have invested in creating a major gift program. They have educated staff and leadership on why major gifts has to be valued in the organization. And they are doing the hard work of developing relationships with their major donors.
The results are what we expect… fantastic! More net revenue, more money for programs, highly engaged donors.
So if you are wondering how in the world you’ll ever find the time for major gifts at your organization, ask yourself: What do you really value?
If you value major gifts and all that it takes to make it successful, you will have the time. And if you don’t you’ll make the time.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.