Why Major Gifts (NOT Events) Fundraising is the Best Thing for Small Nonprofits

New benchmarking research called Mastering Major Gifts asked: What are the critical success factors for major gifts (gifts $1K-$25K annually) fundraising, especially at smaller organizations with an income up to $10 million?

Some of the findings from Mastering Major Gifts:

1. We don’t keep our talent

You think donor retention is a problem? How about fundraiser retention?

The average length of time a director of development stays at a charity is now a miserably inadequate 16 months in the US … not nearly enough time to establish a program like “major gifts,” which can require a couple of years of start-up cultivation. The current problem makes no financial sense.

2. We don’t invest in developing our talent

We don’t invest in developing our talent, even though the training ROI is compelling. But as Amy Eisenstein gleefully announced, “TRAINING WORKS!”

Her study found that every time a fundraiser attends any competent training – conference, webinar, whatever in a 12-month period — the charity realized an added $37,000 in new income. Pay $3K for an international conference? Raise another $37,000 on average. Pay $99 for a webinar? Raise another $37,000 on average.

Nonprofits’ internal attitude is * BIG TIME * a part of the problem. Look at the multi-syllabic screenshot below.

major gifts fundraising

Let me translate: When your board and staff have a good attitude about donors, you bring in lots more major gifts.

HOW FUNNY REAL LIFE IS THOUGH, a new reality show on Fox: This is one of my otherwise-salutary clients. The ED there admitted that the organization, staff and board ~ pretty much everyone setting the tone ~ saw fundraising as “a necessary evil.” Mind you, this is a vital advocacy organization that’s 100% dependent on philanthropy to do its work. So, are donors necessary? Absolutely. Are they evil? At this organization, yeah, baby: donors are a nuisance. Little surprise, then: this 50-year-old organization has never built a broad supporter base.

Small nonprofits should prioritize major gifts fundraising

Smaller organizations (up to $20 million in annual donor revenues; 50% under $1 million) should try major gifts fundraising FIRST, not last. Very good data for that proposition. Get the report. Click picture below.

“Hey, I’ve got a GREAT idea. How about a 5K Mini-Golf Ice Bucket Auction? Nancy, you can do that, right!”

YES! Get the report. BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!!

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