Optimizing 3 Ingredients of a Major Gift

Donors are willing to give a major gift when they:

  1. Understand your work

  2. Believe in your mission

  3. Trust the leadership and financial management of your organization


Gosh, it sounds so simple, doesn’t it?


Since every nonprofit wants more major donors, I encourage you to ask yourself the following:


What is your nonprofit doing to optimize these three ingredients to your fundraising success?


This question could be addressed by staff or your Board’s development committee. However, I recommend engaging a more impromptu group of less-invested donors to act as a short-term task force for you, because they will approach the project with fresh eyes. This fresh perspective will help you see what your donors are seeing, or not, that influences their decision to become a major donor…or not.


This task force can tell you what they know about what your organization accomplishes and how it is accomplished. Consider then how that matches up with staff and board perspective. If you see a noticeable difference, donors are telling you that you’ve got work to do.


Importantly, your task force can also tell you how they know what they know about your nonprofit, and tell you what they went looking for and couldn’t find very easily. For example, your 990 tax form provides your organization with financial transparency. Easy access to your mission statement enables them to strongly connect to your mission instead of inferring it. Background information and photos of your staff and board of directors – the people who are making the decisions – build trust.


This task force is likely to produce a fountain of great suggestions that will re-shape your communication tools to focus on explaining your work, expressing your mission, and building trust your organization. The icing on the cake is that by more fully engaging these sub-engaged donors in this project, they just might become more invested in your work in a “major” way.





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