It’s no secret that major gifts impact the bottom line for small and emerging nonprofits. Even though major donors might make up a small segment of a nonprofit’s donor base, they account for a large percent of the total of gifts that come through ...
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Identify Your Major Donors Today

It’s no secret that major gifts impact the bottom line for small and emerging nonprofits. Even though major donors might make up a small segment of a nonprofit’s donor base, they account for a large percent of the total of gifts that come through the door.

How do you define “major donor” or “major gift”? Here’s the accepted industry definition: a major gift is an occasional contribution that’s larger than a donor’s ongoing annual support.

Some nonprofits set a minimum amount they define as a major gift to help them identify who among their constituents deserves attention based on some assessment of gift capacity.

Free Download: How to Create a Major Donor Program

If your organization hasn’t selected a threshold amount, consider taking these steps to identify your potential major donors:

  • Generate a list of all your donors and all the donations they made to your organization last year.
  • Sort the list with the biggest gifts (and donors’ names) at the top.
  • Calculate the total fundraising dollars received last year and then calculate 75% of your total.
  • Starting at the top, add up gifts until you hit that 75% number. Then, count the number of donors (not...

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7 Ways to Keep Your Nonprofit’s Board Engaged

The members of your board of directors are not just donors. They’re people, too. They didn’t join your nonprofit’s board to ask their friends and family for money, but because they care about your mission. While they are on the inside, they still need to know they are valued and making a difference.

Here are seven ways to help your board feel appreciated and involved:

1. Public Recognition

This type of appreciation can be done in many ways. One way is to feature a different board member profile in each of your nonprofit’s newsletters, giving your donors insight as to who is helping to run your organization. Another is to have a section of your website dedicated to information about your board members. Public recognition can also be done in person. When you host a special event, you could bring attention to your board by taking the time to publicly introduce any members who are in attendance.

2. Thank you event/retreat

Every year you should be treating your board to a thank you event or retreat. Your board works hard for your organization and that hard work should be rewarded with a time to relax together without focusing on business. While business-focused...

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Unearthing “The Why” in Major Giving

Think about the best and worst relationships in your life. Why do you consider one relationship the “best” and the other “the worst?” I bet your response probably includes the word “feel.” You may say: “That person makes me feel like a rock star.” Or “I feel valued and understood by him/her.” On the other hand, your response may be “That person makes me feel inadequate.”

What does this have to do with fundraising? At the end of the day, the core of our work is building relationships between our organizations and our donors. And relationships have a lot to do with feelings. Donors want to feel like they are making a difference and that their gifts are valuable. Enabling donors to have those feelings is the essence of being “donor-centric.” But in our race to meet budget goals, we often lapse into pitching and asking (and repeating) because we think that’s what will raise money quickly.

There’s research behind this focus on feelings in fundraising. In fact, three different studies I’ve found (here, here and here) consistently showed that people who gave money to nonprofits said they were “very happy” compared to non-giving individuals. There are...

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How to Write Awesome Emails Your Donors Want to Read

When you want to contact your donors, chances are, you email them. And so does everybody else.

Your donors, through no fault of their own, have inboxes that are constantly bogged down with messages from various organizations, businesses, stores, news outlets, and bloggers. And it’s a rare person who actually reads all of it.

So, how do you “cut through the clutter?” Here are five tips to ensure your email reaches (and resonates) with your donors:

Tip 1: Think Before You Write.

Before you start typing, think about why you’re writing. What is the purpose of the email? Is it to get the word out about your nonprofit’s recent activities? Is it to invite donors to an event? Is it an appeal for donations? The most effective emails focus on one thing. In other words, don’t combine the invitation to join the peer-to-peer campaign with a program announcement and sign off with a donation request to fund a new roof.

Sure, you have a lot of things to tell your donors, but unless this is your periodic newsletter (and formatted as such), keep each email to one topic. If the need is vital, it deserves its own email. Need help narrowing down your list? Write down what you want to say...

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Major Gift Fundraising for the Small Shop

Editor’s note: Being able to analyze your data and keep track of your ongoing cultivation efforts is vital for building a major gifts program. Having the right tools can save you a lot of time – and keep you organized and on track. Click here to learn about Network for Good’s donor management, designed specifically for small nonprofits.

For small nonprofits, it can be difficult to determine the most strategic way to spend limited resources on fundraising. Among these organizations, annual giving appeals and fundraising events are popular because they can raise more money in a short period of time. But there is absolutely no reason why a small nonprofit shouldn’t focus on raising major gifts.

Why? Because major gifts are the most efficient form of fundraising out there. Major gifts have a Cost to Raise a Dollar (CTRD) ratio of 15 cents to raise $1.00 (compared to 35 cents and 40 cents for direct mail and events, respectively). But receiving major gifts takes time and perseverance…and lots of it. A successful major gifts program does not focus on high net-worth individuals without a connection to your organization. In fact, you probably already know who your...

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