Co-Founder + CEO
How many of us wish there were more hours in the day to focus on our major giving program and donors? Some of us may be one-man teams, but even those of us lucky enough to work in a fully-staffed, robust development office wish we had more time to reach out to more donors and have more meaningful conversations. Some of us don’t work on major gifts because there isn’t time and we don’t really see the need: “Why would I spend the time on major gifts if I’m getting by with annual gifts, grants, earned income, etc.?”
Good question. And below is arguably a good answer.
First, let’s reference GivingUSA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy published by The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of The Giving Institute. Of the approximately $471.44 Billion dollars given by Americans in 2020, 69% was given by individuals. Add in the 9% giving through bequests (which are also given by individuals, technically) and the total is closer to 78% received from individuals. That leaves only 22% given by foundations and corporations. Also, foundations are only legally required and mostly stick to a 5% mandatory distribution requirement.
Donor-Advised Funds and non-traditional giving methods allow for a myriad of possibilities and vehicles for individuals to use to invest in causes and programs about which they care deeply. It is also easier and a better use of staff resources (including time!) to cultivate and grow donors you already have, than to go out and identify new donors. This is especially true when you look at the national statistics on donor retention. According to AFP Global, the 2020 donor retention rate was 19.2%, meaning that less than one in five donors who gave for the first time in 2019 to a charity didn’t give to the same charity last year.
A major giving program gives your donors a path to a deeper relationship with your mission and allows for greater impact through financial investment. With donor acquisition costs on the rise, spending time examining your current donor base is a better use of time and results in a higher ROI. These individuals have already self-selected and said “yes” to you and your work at least once, but how well do you really “know” them? When was the last time your organization (or have your ever?) conducted a wealth screening? You may know who your top donors are, but do you know who are your most loyal?
To implement a major giving program, organizations should rely on the four pillars of a successful solicitation:
- You need a major giving case for support that clearly explains your mission and needs and expresses the impact major giving investments will have on your nonprofit.
- It’s imperative that we really “do our homework” and know our donors by understanding their past support, motivations to give and philanthropic goals. This is where the art and science of fundraising converge at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative knowledge.
- Utilizing this knowledge, we can develop personalized cultivation strategies, guided by best practices, to present the strongest solicitation possible.
- We need to steward our donors by identifying meaningful recognition and continuing communication.
By now, I hope you you’re thoroughly convinced individual donor prospects and major giving are elements you need in your resource development plan. Byrne Pelofsky can help your organization institute major giving best practices and offer advice crafted for each organization’s unique needs.
Want to learn more? Give us a call at 816-237-1999 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org