Major Gift Fundraising: 6 Steps to Success

Aug 1, 2019Donors

Major-Gift-Fundraising-6-Steps-to-Success Donors

Do you know the steps to major gift fundraising?

Are you fearful of major gift fundraising?

Are you wrestling with thoughts of failure?

Wrestling with Thoughts of Failure

Maybe when you think about asking someone for money, you fear they will look at you funny, tell you no, or worse, laugh at you. Even though you left those thoughts back in 3rd grade, they are real thoughts in your head.

Your thoughts could get worse; You fear you will be fired, your board won’t support you, or you won’t meet goals and budget.

The best way to conquer these fears is to take action.

Major gift fundraising is learned. You are not born knowing how to raise money! Once you know how to raise money through major gifts, you will not think twice about asking a donor for their support. Actually, you will have cultivated your donors so well, they will come to you with a gift proposal!

It's time to enhance your skills and identify what is holding you back. You want to be confident, more effective with fundraising, and be ready for that next career move. Thus no more nightmares of failing.

I can help you with that.

For a limited time, I am offering a new, FREE masterclass for development directors and other fundraisers. It is called The 3 Behind-the-Scene Secrets to Advancing Your Fundraising Career. Check it out!


The 6 Steps to Successful Major Gift Fundraising

If you do not have a major gift fundraising system in place, it's time to start. There are six steps to major gift fundraising that every development director should know. Once you create a process, it will become a part of your culture. Let me give you a preview.


Step 1 to Major Gift Fundraising: Identify your Ideal Major Donors

You must have a plan. First, that plan starts with identifying your ideal major donors. Unfortunately, not everyone will support your mission. They don’t have a deep connection or may never have an interest or desire to support your cause.

So often, nonprofit leaders, including board members, target their fundraising efforts to a person because they are wealthy.

Focus your efforts on a manageable list of prospective donors. To create that list, use my three-point criteria.

An ideal major donor must:

  • Be passionate about your cause.
  • Have the means to give
  • Be philanthropic

Your list will include individuals and corporate and foundation representatives.

Read more about identifying your ideal major donors. 


Step 2 to Major Gift Fundraising:  Inform Prospective Major Donors

Second, have a communication plan to guide you in how you share your stories of impact. Identify touchpoint opportunities as ways for prospects to learn more about your organization’s work.

Here are the best ways to inform a donor of the differences you are making in the community:

  • Newsletters
  • Speeches
  • Social media
  • Elevator speeches
  • Website

In your communications, you always want to share the transformations from your work through storytelling. Read more HERE:

Step 3 to Major Gift Fundraising:  Determine Prospective Major Donors Values, Interests, and Passions

Fundraising is all about forming relationships and building trust with your current and potential donors. First, people need to get to know you better, and you get to know them before you seek their financial support.

It’s time to get to know your ideal major donors who you identified in step one. Set up a time to visit one-on-one with your potential donors. Get to know what they value most about your organization. For example, you want to know what inspires, motivates, and pulls at the heartstring that makes a person support your organization. 

Step 4 to Major Gift Fundraising:  Involve Prospective Major Donors

You will create your cultivation plan.

Identify how you will engage with each prospective donor at a deeper level.

You want to get to know your donors better. The all-time best way to get to know someone is to ask them for advice, understanding, or feedback.

Think creatively how to engage a donor. Know their likes and dislikes, expertise, and long history with the organization. 

Note: Before you visit with donors, make sure you are clear on your organization’s needs and opportunities. You want to match your donors’ passions and interests with your own organizations’ needs and opportunities for growth.


Step 5 to Major Gift Fundraising:  Invite Prospective Major Donors

Asking for money is probably the scariest part of fundraising to most people. But it need not be. If you have used a process like this one, your prospects will be waiting for you to ask them for a gift.

You are the conduit who allows those people or places in need to be supported by generous, heartfelt people wanting to make a difference. It is up to you to give donors that opportunity to fulfill their wishes and desires to make an impact.

Inviting a donor to support your organization’s cause is not about you. Understand your role in securing major gifts. Once you have that realization, you will be energized and unstoppable in helping make a difference.


Step 6 to Major Gift Fundraising:  Steward Major Donors

Stewardship is how you make a donor feel when they make a gift.

Stewarding a donor is one of, if not, the most important steps in the donor giving process.

When a donor makes a first gift, know that it is not their last gift.

You must create a stewardship plan that maps out how you treat your donors, so they know how much they are appreciated. Let them know they are valued. This is when you let them know the impact of their gift.


Summary Prospective Major Donors

These are the 6 steps to major gift fundraising success!

No matter the size of your organization, you want to build proven processes to raise money through major gifts. If you want to impact more lives or communities, set up a system.  

If you are ready to zero in and focus FULLY on learn how to secure major gifts, this course is for you.  Fundraising Maximized: Your Ultimate Guide to Major Gift Fundraising takes you through seven modules in seven weeks. You will like having a roadmap, a step-by-step approach to implementing major gift fundraising as you go through the course.

Question: Having spent my career in fundraising and analyzing fundraising activities, I have learned a thing or two! Let's talk fundraising. What questions do you have about securing major gifts.

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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