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Now is a time for fantasizing about major gifts. Afterall, it’s a major holiday season full of gift giving and receiving. There’s Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanza and some celebrate all three! But for those working in nonprofit organizations major gifts are on their minds all the time. Receiving one is cause for celebration, especially when it is unexpected. These gifts give more than the giver can imagine and they – along with all other gifts – are at the heart of changing lives and warming hearts.

Nonprofits depend on gifts to carry out their mission. But what exactly is a major gift? Simply put, it’s a gift that represents a significant contribution to your organization. It could be $1,000 or $10,000, or $10 million and more. While some major gifts are made without first consulting the nonprofit, it is more common for donors and nonprofit leaders to discuss the organization’s plans and the impact a major gift could make. This means those within nonprofits have to be comfortable talking about money. And, we have to know who we are talking with and whether or not it is appropriate to have a major gift discussion.

Here are some tips on how to do this. These were shared in a webinar entitled Major Gifts: How to Get them and What to Do Next moderated by Nexus Marketing. The panelists were Katharine Earhart, Partner and Co-Founder at Fairlight Advisors; Marcy Heim, president of Marcy Heim Consulting; and our own Pearl Shaw. We share these to help your organization begin – or grow – its work in identifying and working with prospective major donors.

First, look at who is closest to your organization, including your volunteers and consistent donors. Listen closely to what your current major donors and board members say about themselves and those who have the combined interest and financial ability to make a major gift. People will share information with you about their own giving capacity and who they believe can support your organization when you speak with them one-on-one in a relaxed situation. Remember, your current and consistent donors believe in your work. Talk to them – individually, and at small, curated events. Ask them why they give and who they believe would benefit from giving to your nonprofit. We lay out the steps to talking with donors about your vision and fundraising priorities in our book The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts: Turning Prospects into Donors.

When you receive a major gift – or any gift – say thank you. Say it quickly. Say it personally. Have a board member call to say thank you. Make sure the executive director or CEO calls. Send an official thank you letter with a receipt. Make personal contact at an appropriate pace to keep them apprised of your organization’s work, or to ask for guidance or suggestions. While there is technology to help identify potential major donors, it can never take the place of personal relationships and personal commitments that are often at the core of major gifts. Develop relationships with those who you believe can open doors to those who believe in the work of your nonprofit. Finally, treat all your donors as major donors. Every gift makes a difference.

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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