Major Gifts Playbook
Everything Your Nonprofit Needs to Succeed with Major Gifts Fundraising
Why you should get this Playbook
Are you desperately seeking to find more prospects for larger gifts but… you seem to be looking in all the wrong places?
Do you wish you had a clear plan for determining how big your ‘major gift’ should be … and how to develop realistic goals?
Do you need help creating a powerful, unapologetic case for major donor support?
Do you want help overcoming the mystery — and misery – of major gift solicitation?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then I invite you to join me for an easy, step-by-step, four-volume journey where you’ll learn how to develop and implement a successful major gifts program for your small to medium-sized organization.
Major gifts are not just for the behemoths! Find out how to get your share of the philanthropy pie — and move from good to great!
Why is a Major Gifts Program So Important?
Major individual gifts are the single largest source of philanthropy, by far. The most recent data from Giving USA shows 72% of gifts come from individuals’ annual gifts and an additional 8% from bequests. And two-thirds of all household charity in the U.S. comes from the top 3% of U.S. households. It simply makes sense to follow the money.
Individual major gift fundraising is the most cost-effective form of fundraising. Raising $1 million from a handful of major donor-investors (who you’ll be able to steward and keep loyal so they sustain your organization over time) is simply easier – and more sensible — than trying to raise $1 from a million supporters.
There’s a lot of competition for major donors. The latest research from Cygnus Applied Research reveals what we’ve all suspected for some time: donors are giving larger gifts to fewer places. 43% of donors ages 35 to 64 are contributing to five or fewer causes, compared with 25% of people 65 and older. That means you have to work harder – and really stand out – to secure gifts from folks who in the past may have spread their giving widely.
Why is a Major Gifts Program So Challenging?
What about [richest person in the community; the name on everyone’s list]? He has a lot of money. He should give here!
What about getting a celebrity to be our spokesperson? That will probably persuade others to give. Does anyone know anybody?
Well-meaning leaders too often look at the wrong qualifiers, and this leads to wheel spinning. Just because someone has wealth or high name recognition does not mean they’re a good major donor prospect for you.You need a systematic plan for identifying, screening, qualifying and beginning to build relationships with viable prospects before you’re ready to approach them for a gift. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this Playbook!
Let’s just invite everyone to a house party and ask them for $1,000. We have a deserving case for support!
Let’s send an invitation to join our Major Giver Society to all the major donors on the [XYZ Charity] major donor honor roll. That organization has a mission similar to ours, so their major donors should be ours too.
Does this sort of thing drive you up the wall?
For major gift prospects to become viable options for you, you must become meaningful to them. You can’t ask virtual strangers for major gifts. This means a systematic process of building relationships where you and your prospective donor continue to learn more about one another over time. And that’s your ‘moves management’ system you’ll flesh out and put in process over the course of working through this Playbook!
I don’t think we should ask yet. We haven’t cultivated them enough.
When the iron is hot, it’s time to strike! Too often nonprofits cultivate, cultivate and cultivate, but never get around to the ask. There’s such a thing as waiting too long – and it’s just as crippling as asking too soon. Are you, or your leaders, afraid to take the leap? How to overcome asking anxiety is exactly what you’ll learn in this Playbook!
What’s in this Playbook?
The Playbook is broken into four separate Companion Guides so it’s easy for you to manage and not overwhelming. If you’re just getting started with major gifts, then you’ll want to get all four. If you already have a program, but think you could do better, then you may want to skip the first volume (though a little refresher never hurts) and pick and choose among the remaining three volumes.
Each Companion Guide contains 20 – 65 pages and presents everything you need to know to kick start or rev up your major gifts program, and develop a system that produces exceptional results for your nonprofit. You won’t just find theory and background. You’ll find plenty to reinforce your learning and serve as handy tools this year and in the future.
- Practical Tips
I know this is an investment for you, and I want you to think it’s worth it!
I have to say I’m loving the materials! I want to drop everything else and focus on these steps — they give me hope. I’ve wanted to get a major gifts program started here, but … with your help, I can make major gifts a focus for this year. I’m determined. – Kathy Aultz, Executive Director, Douglas County Historical Society
I’ve read through the playbook and know it’s going to be a huge help. I’ve already used volume 2 to design an exercise we will do with the Board at their next retreat. I love the way you’ve framed their involvement in fundraising!
— Susan Mattei, Stoneleigh-Burnham School
The amount of information and specific examples to support it were so useful. We followed the advice carefully, step by step. Appreciated the detailed resources and extra bonus materials. Thanks so much! –– Class Participant, The Power of Appealing Year-End Appeals
What I most appreciated were the real and specific tools to use. No pie in the sky ideas. Content and formatting was just right: Neither too little/too vague or too much. It is “actionable.” – Class Participant, Winning Major Gift Fundraising
Why I created these Major Gifts Companion Guides:
In response to numerous requests from folks wanting to grab an easy-to-digest road map to securing more major gifts, I combed through my popular 8-week e-course and cherry picked the most useful tips based on participant feedback.
I felt like you were personally cheering me on through the material. Hands on information that shows HOW to do the things that others only say is important (like creating personas, deciding what a major gift is, etc). I really felt like you wanted me (personally) to succeed.– Class Participant, Winning Major Gift Fundraising
It’s awesome!I’m participating in your Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies course and have to say, it’s awesome! The information is extremely relevant and helpful.–Jen Simon, Development Director, Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper
It’s great! It is suited to our ‘small shop’ and feasible to implement.– Hannah Routly, Executive Director, Health Services Foundation, Toronto
They sat through the course so you don’t have to! If you prefer to buy each Guide individually, here’s what’s covered:
Get dressed for major gifts success! You won’t succeed until certain pre-conditions are in place. It’s not rocket science. But it is rocket fuel. If your tank is empty, you won’t get very far — even if you follow all the best practices. This Guide shows you how to power up, giving you tips regarding your major gift amount, characteristics of best major gift prospects, prospect identification, screening and rating, leadership support, research and more. Use this Guide to get everyone on the same page and pumped up about developing a robust major gifts program to sustain your organization through good times and bad.
Learn to cultivate just the right amount; then get psyched for the ask! Overcome asking anxiety through preparation. Pick the right amount. Get clarity on staff vs. volunteer roles. Understand and embrace your personal asking style. Reframe the conversation to storytelling. Learn the #1 secret to successful asks. Learn what to say and what not to say. Get tips to assure your prospect is primed for your ask.
How do you know when it’s time to ask? This complete Solution Kit will lead you step-by-step to the point of readiness. No more guessing. It will become crystal clear when your prospect is primed for your ask. And since every donor is different, you’ll learn to develop a multitude of different cultivation options — different strokes for different folks. Arm yourself with the “Get to 100” system so that you avoid “cultivation paralysis” – a truly dreaded disease that will destroy all of your hard work unless you are mindful.
This is a simple step-by-step guide, with clearly explained tips, pointers and even sample language, to help you succeed (in spades!) when making a major gift solicitation. This “Cheat Sheet” will walk you through some of the common pitfalls so you can avoid them, and will arm you with tools to help you put your best foot forward. Stop fearing rejection… make your compelling case… listen carefully… respond with empathy… and use some of the key words and phrases (plus secrets!) you’ll find in this Cheat Sheet.