Winning Major Gift Fundraising Strategies E-Course

Why You Can’t Afford Not to Ask for Them

In just 8 weeks, I’ll help you learn how to win major gifts to sustain your cause over the long-term.

They’re the key to your long-term sustainability.

If you’re serious about fundraising, then you’ve got to get serious about investing in major gifts solicitation.This is true no matter the size of your organization.

It’s a commitment that will really be worth your time and effort.

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 over time) is simply easier – and more sensible — than trying to raise $1 from a million supporters.

Ready to commit?  I’m here to help you reap the rewards of working smart (not just hard).

Are you scrambling to raise most of your funding from grants and special events, still ignoring the fact that individuals are by far the largest source of philanthropy?

Do you wish you could raise BIG gifts for your organization, but don’t know where to begin?

Are you desperately seeking to find more prospects for larger gifts but… you seem to be looking in all the wrong places?

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,” I invite you to join me for the next eight weeks to learn how to develop and implement a successful individual major gifts program for your small to medium-sized organization.

Introducing WINNING MAJOR GIFTS FUNDRAISING STRATEGIES for the small to medium-sized shop


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 a Major Gifts Program is So Important

Major individual gifts are the single largest source of philanthropy, by far.

The data from Giving USA shows 77% of all donations come from individuals — 68% of philanthropy comes from individuals’ annual gifts and an additional 9% from bequests. If you add in giving from family foundations and donor advised funds, a whopping 87% of all giving comes from individuals! 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.

Giving USA Pie Chart 2019

Individual giving, including lifetime gifts and bequests, accounts for nearly 80% of all philanthropy per Giving USA – are you getting your share of the pie?

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: 43% of donors ages 35 to 64 are contributing to five or fewer causes, compared with 25% of people 65 and older.

Donors are giving larger gifts to fewer places.  

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.

You Have What it Takes to Be a Major Gift Fundraising Wizard!

You want to change the world…

You want to connect meaningfully with other people who want to change the world…

You want to inspire a true joy for giving…

You are a hard worker…

You enjoy working as smart as you know how…

You have the passion to make amazing things happen…

Why You Need a Little Help

Does any of this sound like you or your board or other staff?

“I wish I had the confidence to ask for bigger gifts.”

“I wish I wasn’t so afraid of rejection.”

“I wish I was better prepared to handle objections.”

“I wish I knew how much to ask for.”

“I wish I knew how to inspire more volunteers to become askers.”

It’s a struggle to figure out how to do it on your own, and it wastes time!

While you’re struggling, you’re not raising the funds you need right now. Major gift fundraising is not rocket science. But there is both science and art to doing it well – and that’s what I’ll share with you!

Does this ring a bell?

What about [richest person in the community]? He has a lot of money!

What about getting a celebrity to be our spokesperson? That will probably persuade major donors to give!

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.

Have you heard this?

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 new Major Gifts Society to everyone who gave major gifts to [organization similar to yours].

Major gifts don’t fall from the sky. You can’t ask virtual strangers for major gifts. 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 course!

Does this sound familiar?

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 course!

Are You New to Major Gifts?

No worries.  You too can master what you need to succeed.  Does any of this sound familiar?

“I don’t even know what amount I should consider as “major.”

“I wish I knew where to find major donor prospects”

“I wish I knew how to prepare more board members to get inspired about asking.”

“I wish I had a step-by-step road map to build a major gifts program.”

There are very few organizations that can’t raise major gifts. If you think you’re one, email me. I’ll be honest with you.

Size or shape has nothing to do with it. Whatever your mission, you’re missing a huge boat if you’re not incorporating a robust major gifts strategy into your overall fundraising program.

There’s money on the table – it’s time for you to stop leaving it there.

What’s in this Course?

Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies will run for 8 weeks. This class runs completely online, and all materials will be delivered electronically.  The process is broken into segments so it’s easy for you to manage – and less overwhelming than a workshop or conference. It includes written content, pre-recorded webinars to enjoy at your convenience and a variety of hands-on materials to guide you incrementally towards your goal – raising more money!

Every Tuesday for eight weeks you will receive an email containing the week’s course curriculum (in PDF format). Each guide contains 20 – 50 pages, and presents everything you need to know to kick start or rev up your major gifts program to develop a system that produces exceptional results for your nonprofit.

You’ll find this course to be more robust than many others out there, with plenty of practical tips, worksheets, exercises and checklists to reinforce your learning and serve as handy tools this year and in the future. Why? I know this is an investment for you, and I want you to think it’s worth it!

What People are Saying

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’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

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, January 2019 cohort

This morning I received a $10,000 donation … Thank you for your help, your training material, blogs and tweets have helped me hit the ground running as an MGO.

— Robert Byrne, Relationship Manager, The Shepherd Centre

I am so enthusiastic about your program it is difficult to not be able to indulge in the exercises 100% every day!

— Melissa Kate, Young Audiences of Western New York

I am LOVING this course – printed it all off, been running the reports to do assignments, reading through all it. Thanks for all you do!

–Valerie Sherrer, Organizational Development Director, Novoministies

I enrolled in your course a few years ago. After applying your teachings I was able to raise thousands of (additional) dollars for worthy nonprofits.

— Susan Tripi DeLano, Rise Consulting Group


The Course Modules: Winning Major Gifts Strategies

Here are the weekly written course curriculum modules you’ll receive:

The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Major Gifts

Week 1: 

  • Why you need a major gifts program
  • How major gifts is different
  • What makes a donor major?
  • Choosing your major gift amount
  • Characteristics of best major gift prospects
  • A to Z: Laying the groundwork for successful asks

Discover Who Your Prospective Major Donors Are

Week 2: 

  • Who is hiding in plain sight?
  • Working from the inside/out
  • Where to go for research
  • Screening and rating your prospects

Leading with Your Best Foot

Week 3: 

  • Create your powerful case for support
  • How many donors/gifts do you need?
  • How do you determine if you can meet your goal?
  • How do you set donor goals?
  • Who should make the ask

Cultivation – Getting the Donor Ready/Making the “Moves”

Week 4: 

  • What is moves management, exactly?
  • Who makes the moves?
  • How much is enough?
  • How do I organize it and keep it on track?

Avoiding Cultivation Paralysis: The ‘Get to 100’ System

Week 5: 

  • Create a list of meaningful major donor attributes
  • Determine which ‘moves’ mean the most
  • Move seamlessly from cultivation to solicitation
  • Strike when the iron is hot

Pre-Solicitation – Get Your Database and Board Ready to Support You

Week 6: 

  • How much to ask for
  • The role of your database
  • Different ways your board can support you
  • How to create a useful knowledge base
  • How to create donor profiles

Get Yourself or Your Solicitor Ready:  Overcome Asking Anxiety

Week 7: 

  • The information you’ll need to feel prepared
  • How to overcome common fears
  • How to get the visit
  • Who to involve in the visit
  • Understanding asking styles

Anatomy of a Major Gifts Ask… and After!

Week 8: 

  • What to say
  • How to say it
  • How to handle objections
  • What to do if your prospect says ‘no’
  • Follow-up

 Weekly Bonuses… and then some!!!

The core of the curriculum — step-by-step — is in the modules.  But… I just love presents! The 17 bonuses (I added five brand NEW ones this year!) are fun.  And they’ll help to reinforce your learning.

Week 1 BONUS:  “It’s Not Just About the Money,” by Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry  –  One chapter


Week 1 BONUS: “Major Gifts Pipeline Assessment” — Worksheet

Week 2 BONUS: Every Ask You Don’t Make is a Gift You Won’t Get,” by Claire Axelrad – One-hour Webinar

webinar-every-ask-you-dont-make-is-a-gift-you-wont-getclaire-300x181Week 2 BONUS: How to Qualify Major Donor Prospects to Build a Manageable Caseload” – Checklist

qualify-mjr-donor-260x300Week 3 BONUS: Smart Tips to Identify, Screen, Rate and Qualify Major Donor Prospects,” by Claire Axelrad –  One-hour Webinar

Week 3 BONUS:  Major Gifts Matters: Offering Donors Choices – Restricted, Unrestricted, Program and Overhead Giving – FAQs

majorgiftmatters-260x300Week 4 BONUS: Donor-Centered Moves Management: Cultivation and Stewardship Solutions,” by Claire Axelrad – One-hour Webinar


Week 5 BONUS: “50 Ways to Move Your Donor” Your complete Cultivation and Stewardship Template

50 Ways to Move Your Donor Template

Week 6 BONUS: “10 Keys to Lay the Groundwork for Successful Asks– Cheat Sheet

majorgift10-keys-150x150Week 6 BONUS: “40 Questions to Ask Major Gift Prospects before You Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse” – Checklist


Week 6 BONUS just addedAsking Styles: A Revolutionary Concept in the Field,” by Brian Saber – 45-minute Webinar


Week 7 BONUS:Overcome Your Board’s Fear of Fundraising, Once and for All”, by Claire Axelrad One-hour Webinar


Week 8 BONUS: “How to Ask for a Major Gift – Step-by-Step,” by Claire Axelrad, One-Hour Webinar

Week 8 BONUS: Getting Started in Charitable Gift Planning,” by Brian Sagrestano, J.D., CFRE and Robert Wahlers, M.S., CFRE – Two chapters


Week 8 BONUS: A phenomenal, comprehensive Resource Guide with links to blogs, articles, white papers, books and other tools to fuel your major gifts efforts and provide inspiration and advice for years to come!

EXTRA BONUSES just added!

  • “Opening the Door to Major Gifts – Mastering the Discovery Call,” by James Greenhoe, CFRE – Two chapters


  • “The Donor Lifecycle Map,” by Deborah Kaplan Polivy, Ph.D – One chapter


Who is This Course For?

Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies is for both those new to major gifts as well as seasoned development pros who want to know how to strengthen what they already have in place.  The course covers basics that will work for you even if you’re a one-person shop, as well as sophisticated strategies that will take more established programs to the next level. Executive Directors, Development Directors, Development Consultants, Major Gifts Officers, other fundraising staff, board members and volunteers will all benefit from this eight week course.

We are loving the Major Gifts course – it’s encouraging us to do the work we want to do! The curriculum makes me I feel like I’m going to Fundraising Gym and that I’ve got stronger muscles based on the practices and internal reflections. 

–Mary Coffman, TeenSmart International

I just wrapped up your Winning Major Gifts series and wanted to reach out and say thank you. I am an independent consultant, working primarily with smaller organizations on strategic growth. I really enjoyed the series and am applying the learning right now with 2 of my clients!

— Elizabeth Woolfe, Consultant

It’s great! It is suited to our ‘small shop’ and feasible to implement.

— Hannah Routly, Executive Director, Health Services Foundation, Toronto

Extremely satisfied. I have saved it all and it will become my bible. You are so open, passionate and knowledgeable about major gifts and provide wonderful suggestions to keep us focused. THANKS.

— Jeanine Purcell, Medaille College

Thanks! The training is fantastic.

–Lisa S. Chase, Director of Donor Engagement, ACLU of Delaware

Even better? You can register up to 5 additional individuals  from your organization – at no additional fee. That way all your key players, from your ED to your board members, will truly be on board with what it takes to be successful raising major gifts and sustaining these supporters over time.

It is easy to understand and makes it seem possible and less daunting to raise money from major donors. Good value.

— Jennifer Norris, RAWdance

 We are really just building our major gifts program and I’m finding the course to be incredibly helpful. 

— Carter Cox, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

The information and the pacing of the material is WONDERFUL! I love the end-of-week check in and bonus materials and how detailed the recommendations are – actual steps to create a Major Donor Program!

— Lara Edwards, Friends of the Rouge

Learn at Your Own Pace, at Your Convenience

One of the best things about this course is you can read the guides and listen to the podcasts/webinars from the comfort of your home or office, and on your own schedule.  Though the modules are delivered weekly – and spaced out so as not to be overwhelming (like a full one-day conference might be) — you don’t have to read or listen to them at an assigned time.

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, August 2018 cohort

I walked away with a long list of things to do “next time.”  Your materials were written very sympathetically for your audience — they are accessible, practical, and easy to reference.   Your 5:00 AM feedback to my email inquiry blew me away… and was very helpful.   The phasing of the material was perfect, and the homework was just right.

— Matthew Patchell, Chief Development Officer, The Junior State of America

I’m really enjoying this online course — and am so grateful that you offer it this way! This is REALLY helpful – thanks SO much. Exactly what I was looking for!
–Marilyn Lee, Communications Manager, Loving Houston

Your online classes have been outstanding!

–Katie Callahan, Major Gifts Officer, Notre Dame College

All the materials are yours to keep!  So even if you can’t get through them all immediately, you can use them whenever you have the time and/or inclination. And you can share them with future employees and volunteers as well. You can:

  • Download them
  • Store them in a folder on your computer
  • Print everything out and store in a single binder (some have told me this becomes their ‘Major Gifts Bible’)
  • Write notes in the margins
  • Highlight the parts that resonate most with you

Ask Questions / Get Answers!

This course is taught by me, with additional bonus materials provided by several colleagues who are major gift gurus.

Have questions about the course materials and how they apply to your nonprofit? All participants in this course will have:

  • Direct email access to me for the duration of the course.
  • Ongoing encouragement and tips from me. I will often share Q&A from your colleagues at other organizations who are taking the course.

The timeliness was excellent and the fact that we could reach out to Claire anytime was great.

You have been great Claire in sharing all of your AMAZING resources.  Thank you for your online encouragement and keeping us informed of so much information to help us strengthen our major gift program and build our knowledge to create the best asks in Major Gifts!

Stephanie Pommier, Regional Director, NPH USA

What Does It Cost?

NOTHING. Essentially, nothing. When you consider the recent research showing that every additional training in which you invest results in an additional $37,000 in income, the upfront cost of this course more than evaporates. On top of that, just one major gift will more than cover your investment!

Plus, you can register yourself and up to 5 additional members of your team — volunteers, staff, board members and more — for one inclusive price of $997 for all eight weeks (up to 30% less if you’re an enrolled Clairification School member) — a crazy bargain for 8 weeks of curriculum materials, awesome bonuses and direct email access to Claire.

Yup! You can get all eight weeks for as little as $15/person/week. It’s a great way to get everyone on your team on the same page – and if you include volunteers, I’ll bet you they’ll make a gift afterwards that more than covers the cost of their participation (wink, wink… I’m just saying).

 I greatly appreciated all of the supplemental worksheets, links and materials.

I felt the price extremely reasonable for everything you gave and all the access you have provided to resources!

— Michelle Kravetsky, RMHC of Northwest Ohio

If you’re serious about raising more money, this is an investment you can’t afford not to make!  Your cost is a fraction of the major gifts your nonprofit will secure after you take this course.

Even for small nonprofits, this course will pay for itself many times over.

  • 8 weeks of step-by-step curriculum guides ($4,400 value)
  • 6 bonus webinars ($1,000 value)
  • 19 CFRE credits ($1,210 value)
  • Templates, checklists, and cheat sheets + a comprehensive resource guide ($1,000 value)
  • Email access to me for the duration of the course

Total value of Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies: $7,610 

But that’s only the beginning — because you’ll also raise more money.  And not just this year, but for years to come. WHOA, right?!!!

I love the real-life examples and the focus on the positive. It completely changed my thinking about fundraising!

— Class Participant, January 2020 cohort

So… you’ll only gain if you commit to this!

Will I Receive CFRE Credit?

YES! Full participation in Winning Major Gifts Strategies is applicable for 19 points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or re-certification.

Claire_54_180x200Why Take This Course from Me?

Four reasons:

  1. My direct experience as a development professional — in the trenches — leading major gifts fundraising for five organizations over a 30-year career.
  2. My consulting and coaching experience working with nonprofits large and small over the past eight years.
  3. Your cost, which is less than half the cost of similar online programs.
  4. Your future success, both for your organization today and your professional career today and tomorrow.

1. My Direct Experience

You know the old saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach?  Well, before I began coaching, consulting and teaching I put in 30 years on the fundraising front lines. I asked for a lot of major gifts. For capital campaigns. For endowment campaigns. For annual campaigns.

I’ve been in your shoes, and know the challenges you face. I did a lot of doing, and now I want to pass along my ‘lessons learned.’

2. My Consulting and Coaching Experience

I’ve helped nonprofits raise hundreds of millions over a career inspiring volunteers and professionals to implement innovative fundraising and marketing strategies that advance the mission, vision and values of causes addressing society’s most pressing problems. Recognized as a leading expert, I was named Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and teach the CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers.

I’m dedicated to being your supportive partner and to cheering you along the way.

3. Your Cost

I’m offering this course at half (or less) the cost of other competitive programs you’ll find online. Why?  Because major gifts can change the world! I’m charging enough so it’s an investment on your part, because you need to take this seriously.  If you do, you’ll make back your investment – and much more – lickety split!

I sincerely want this course to be accessible to you so you have the tools you need to make our world a better, more caring place. You’ll get this for less than the cost of 3 hours of my coaching time, yet it’s a FULL 8 weeks of content into which I’ve poured many, many, many hours.

4. Your Future Success

This 8-week course will deliver comprehensive, digestible content to your inbox with curriculum modules you can keep forever (those who’ve taken the course in the past tell me these have become their “Major Gifts Bible”). Plus you’ll get bonus webinars, worksheets and tips and even (optional) homework… I think of it more as “fun” work that helps you consolidate your learning and really get a bigger bang for your buck. Finally, major gift fundraisers are in HUGE demand. So why not make yourself more marketable?

I want you to take this course, because the future of your nonprofit — and our civilization — may depend upon it.

You bring me hope.

Ready to Master Major Gift Fundraising?

Get Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies