Are you desperately seeking to find more prospects for larger gifts but don’t know where to look?
Do you wish you had a clear plan for determining how big your ‘major gift’ should be, and how to develop realistic goals?
Do you need help creating a powerful case for major donor support?
Do you want help overcoming the mystery and misery of major gift solicitation?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then I invite you to join me for the next six weeks to learn how to develop and implement a successful major gifts program for your small to medium-sized organization. Major gifts are not just for big nonprofits! They are for us small ones too!
Why is a Major Gifts Program So Important?
Major individual gifts are the single largest source of philanthropy, by far. The most recent data from Giving USA shows 72% of gifts come from individuals’ annual gifts and an additional 7% from bequests. And two-thirds of all household charity in the U.S. comes from the top 3% of U.S. households. It simply makes sense to follow the money.
Individual major gift fundraising is the most cost-effective form of fundraising. Raising $1 million from a handful of major donor-investors (who you’ll be able to steward and keep loyal so they sustain your organization over time) is simply easier – and more sensible — than trying to raise $1 from a million supporters.
There’s a lot of competition for major donors. The latest research from Cygnus Applied Research reveals what we’ve all suspected for some time: donors are giving larger gifts to fewer places. 43% of donors ages 35 to 64 are contributing to five or fewer causes, compared with 25% of people 65 and older. That means you have to work harder – and really stand out – to secure gifts from folks who in the past may have spread their giving widely.
Why is a Major Gifts Program So Challenging?
What about [richest person in the community; the name on everyone’s list]? He has a lot of money. He should give here!
What about getting a celebrity to be our spokesperson? That will probably persuade others to give. Does anyone know anybody?
Well-meaning leaders too often look at the wrong qualifiers, and this leads to wheel spinning. Just because someone has wealth or high name recognition does not mean they’re a good major donor prospect for you. You need a systematic plan for identifying, screening, qualifying and beginning to build relationships with viable prospects before you’re ready to approach them for a gift. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this course!
Let’s just invite everyone to a house party and ask them for $1,000. We have a deserving case for support!
Let’s send an invitation to join our Major Giver Society to all the major donors on the [XYZ Charity] major donor honor roll. That organization has a mission similar to ours, so their major donors should be ours too.
Does this sort of thing drive you up the wall?
For major gift prospects to become viable options for you, you must become meaningful to them. You can’t ask virtual strangers for major gifts. This means a systematic process of building relationships where you and your prospective donor continue to learn more about one another over time. And that’s your ‘moves management’ system you’ll flesh out and put in process in this course!
I don’t think we should ask yet. We haven’t cultivated them enough.
When the iron is hot, it’s time to strike! Too often nonprofits cultivate, cultivate and cultivate, but never get around to the ask. There’s such a thing as waiting too long – and it’s just as crippling as asking too soon. Are you, or your leaders, afraid to take the leap? How to overcome asking anxiety is exactly what you’ll learn in this course!
What’s in this Course?
This class runs completely online, and all materials will be delivered electronically. The process is broken into segments so it’s easy for you to manage – and less overwhelming than a workshop or conference. It includes written content, pre-recorded webinars to enjoy at your convenience and a variety of hands-on materials to guide you incrementally towards your goal – raising more money!
Every Tuesday for six weeks you will receive an email containing the week’s course materials (in PDF format).
Each guide contains 20 – 30 pages and presents everything you need to know to kick start or rev up your major gifts program, and develop a system that produces exceptional results for your nonprofit. You’ll find this course to be more robust than many others out there, with plenty of practical tips, worksheets, exercises and checklists to reinforce your learning and serve as handy tools this year and in the future.
The amount of information and specific examples to support it were so useful. We followed the advice carefully, step by step. Appreciated the detailed resources and extra bonus materials. Thanks so much!
Class Participant, The Power of Appealing Year-End Appeals
The Course Modules: Winning Major Gifts Strategies
Here are the weekly course modules you’ll receive:
Week 1: The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Major Gifts
- Why you need a major gifts program
- How major gifts is different
- What makes a donor major?
- Choosing your major gift amount
- Characteristics of best major gift prospects
- A to Z: Laying the groundwork for successful asks
Week 2: Discover Who Your Prospective Major Donors Are
- Who is hiding in plain sight?
- Working from the inside/out
- Where to go for research
- Screening and rating your prospects
Week 3: Leading with your best foot
- Create your powerful case for support
- How many donors/gifts do you need?
- How do you determine if you can meet your goal?
- How do you set donor goals?
- Who should make the ask
Week 3 BONUS:
Week 4: Cultivation – Getting the Donor Ready/Making the “Moves”
- What is moves management, exactly?
- Who makes the moves?
- How much is enough?
- How do I organize it and keep it on track?
- How do I move from cultivation to solicitation?
Week 4 BONUS: Cultivation and Stewardship ‘Moves’ Template
Week 5: Pre-Solicitation – Get Yourself or Your Solicitor Ready
- How much to ask for
- The role of your database
- The information you’ll need to feel prepared
- How to get the visit
- How to overcome asking anxiety
Week 5 BONUS: One-hour Webinar “How to Overcome Your Board’s Fear of Fundraising, Once and for All”, by Claire Axelrad
Week 6: Anatomy of a Major Gifts Ask… and After!
- What to say
- How to say it
- How to handle objections
- What to do if your prospect says ‘no’
Week 6 BONUS: One-hour Webinar “Every Ask You Don’t Make is a Gift You Won’t Get – How to Succeed with Major Gifts Fundraising,” by Claire Axelrad
Who is This Course For?
Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies is for both those new to major gifts as well as seasoned development pros who want to know how to strengthen what they already have in place. The course covers basics that will work for you even if you’re a one-person shop, as well as sophisticated strategies that will take more established programs to the next level. Executive Directors, Development Directors, Major Gifts Officers, other fundraising staff, board members and volunteers will all benefit from this six week course.
Even better? You can register as many individuals from your organization as you’d like – at no additional fee. That way everyone, from your ED to your board members, will truly be on board with what it takes to be successful raising major gifts and sustaining these supporters over time.
Learn at Your Own Pace, at Your Convenience
One of the best things about this course is that you can read the guides and listen to the podcasts/webinars from the comfort of your home or office. Though the modules are delivered weekly – and spaced out so as not to be overwhelming (like a full one-day conference might be) — you don’t have to read or listen to them at an assigned time.
And all the materials are yours to keep! So even if you can’t get through them all immediately, you can use them whenever you have the time and/or inclination. And you can share them with future employees and volunteers as well.
Who teaches this course?
This course is taught by Claire Axelrad, with additional bonus materials provided by Mazarine Treyz.
Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, has helped nonprofits raise hundreds of millions over a career inspiring volunteers and professionals to implement innovative fundraising and marketing strategies that advance the mission, vision and values of causes addressing society’s most pressing problems. Named Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Claire teaches the CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers. Her blog was recently named “Top Fundraising Blog” by Fundraising Success and she is a regular contributor to Maximize Social Business and Fundraising Success Magazine.
(Note to my Wild Woman Fundraising subscribers: we can’t be good at everything, and I am not the best at Major Gifts. That’s why Claire Axelrad is writing and delivering this e-course, and I am helping put it into the world. When you get this course, I get a commission and the rest of the money goes to Claire. This also means if you have a major gifts question, it should go to her, and not to me.)