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Major Gift Fundraising - Where to Start?

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Quite simply, major gift fundraising is helping a wealthy person make their giving decision as easy and as informed as possible.

When assessing the potential for major donor fundraising there are 3 key things to consider:

1. Who do we know and/or who can we reach

Scanning the latest Rich Lists - and there are a wide range of them now, covering specific sectors and localities as well as total wealth - will not provide the necessary introductions and door opening, so spend your time more productively.

Aside from a one-off, gold plated introduction or a chance meeting, the starting point for deciding if there is a real opportunity with major donors is seeing who is out there either locally to you or with a known interest in similar causes, or whom you can reach through your existing networks.

If you do not have any obvious prospects in mind, it is also possible to commission external research into wealthy people with an interest in causes like yours. The new personal data regulations (GDPR) do not prevent research; they simply mean there is a new way of doing it legally.

2. Do your due diligence

It is likely that you will already have in place a policy of acceptance and non-acceptance of donations, and your research of potential major donors will need to have considered this aspect as well.

Some years ago, the LSE (London School of Economics) came in for considerable criticism by accepting donations linked to the Libyan government and, more recently, the issue arose from the unacceptable behaviour at The President's Club, a dining club that raised funds for charities. So think carefully about whom you will and won't accept donations from.

3. Be ready for them to do their due diligence

Just as you have looked at them, so they will look at you …in quite considerable detail. They will want to have access to all the information and people before they make a decision - and the larger the gift being sought then the deeper the bond of trust that needs to be developed and so the longer the decision may take. There are rarely any short cuts with major gifts.

Major Gifts Fundraising

In summary, major gifts:

  • Come from the usual suspects – probably someone you already know or can reach
  • Rarely a coincidence – someone needs to ask; fairy tales happen in fairy stories
  • Result from a shared passion, a mutual trust, and a faith in delivery

Unlike most other types of fundraising, it’s not a transaction – instead, it’s about developing and evolving a relationship. Major donor work needs a different way of looking at your organisation, its people and work, and how it wants to change the world.

The life experience of major donors is often quite different so the way we think and shape the appeal and the ask needs to be done from their perspective rather than ours.

For many, if not all of them, it is about wanting to do things that TRANSFORM things. How can you help them to do this?

If you would like to know more about planning your major donor fundraising and what it involves, please call us for a free exploratory chat on 01785 663600 You may also find our webpage of interest.


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