What is a Major Gift?

Oct 21, 2022Leadership

Video Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi there, Nancy to here. Listen up as I share my latest tip of focusing on large gift fundraising.

[00:00:06] What is a major gift? Well, major gifts are the largest gifts the organization receives. That's the simplest form of what a major gift is. It's the largest gifts your organization receives. Now let's break that down. First of all, every organization is different.

[00:00:24] That's not the same for everyone, but the one organization, it might be a thousand dollars, someone else, it may be $10,000 is, is considered a threshold for a major gift. The way I look at is, and a, in a little, a quick formula. This is the easiest and the quickest and don't get caught up in the exact science.

[00:00:42] And this is an internal purpose is why you want to know what is a major gift at your organization. Is so that you know where to focus your time, a big portion of your time. Cause you have diverse fundraising. You've got pools, you've got pipelines, and those are important. But you definitely want to dedicate a good portion of your time to large gifts.

[00:01:01] So the way I look at it, let's use simple math here. Let's say an organization has 100 donors in your database. So if you take one, those 100 donors; typically the top 10% of those donors, of your donors in your database are your top giving donors. Those are your large gifts, and usually there's a break, so it might be the top 8%, it might be the top 12%, maybe 15%.

[00:01:30] It could be that 80 20 Pareto principle rule where its the top 20%. But studies show it's somewhere around 10%, give or take. So if you took your top 10 donors and you looked at that 10%, there's probably a natural break. So you might have a lot of 25, 50, $100 gifts. Then you kind of creep up to a $500 gift.

[00:01:51] Then you have quite a few a thousand dollars gifts and then a 5,000, maybe one $10,000 gift. And let's say you're brand new, new organization, it might look like that. So I would say your threshold on that example of an organization is $1,000. That's your threshold is, is what you consider a major gift.

[00:02:11] Though that means that's really where you're gonna focus. Those who have the means to give at that level or more. A major gift is the largest gifts coming to your organization, typically the top 10% in your database. And I would look over a three year period because you might, you'll get some outliers. Although I don't really like the outliers. I like them to come in and never leave. You don't wanna ever lose a donor.

[00:02:36] And, and you know the example I gave those $500 gifts; they're not, not important. I mean, they're all important, but they're kind of that transitional, you still look at those because they're probably testing the water.

[00:02:49] I always think everyone's testing the water, those $25 gifts, a person who can give largely, is probably not going to make their first gift, their largest gift. It's not likely. A lot of times people just really want to test the waters to see how you treat them, to see what you do with your money to make sure you do what you say you're going to do with the money.

[00:03:11] So they're testing the waters to see if you're really making an impact and how you treat them. Is there gratitude there or is the relationship strengthened over time? Things like that. So that's why all gifts are important. But you only have so much time in a day. So I always want my members in my groups to focus on those large gifts and be moving the needle on those all the time.

[00:03:34] Be sure you are signed up to receive my quick tips and strategies each week by clicking the link here. See your next time.

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 [email protected].


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