What nonprofit leaders need to know about the next big gift

by | Jan 5, 2016 | CEO/Executive Directors, Fundraising, Organizational Leadership | 0 comments

In our coaching work, we’ve received another wave of nonprofit leaders wanting the “next big gift.”

It’s perfectly reasonable to expect results from the major gift officer or a development director you just hired. But one client had her executive director ask, “You’ve been here two weeks. Where’s the million dollar check?”

That is crazy.

Nonprofit leaders need an understanding of funding

Being an effective leader includes needing to understand some basics about funding – both whatever fees or reimbursements you collect and the mechanics of nonprofit fundraising.

Effective nonprofit fundraising is not:

  • Trolling the list of other charities 990’s to find donors for your cause
  • It is not hounding a person you think is “rich” just because they’re are rich
  • It is not starting a gala just because the nonprofit next door has done one for 10 years.
  • It is not cold calling the CEO’s of multi-national corporations because they make big salaries.

We’ve seen these ideas and more. If they worked, you could do them yourself. But you obviously have the wisdom to seek expertise by hiring a fundraising professional. So have the wisdom to find out how that process works.

The (potentially bad) news is, for the most part, fundraising is a long, slow feeling, series of consistent, boring, intentional relationship steps with people.

Where the next big gift to your nonprofit really is

Fortunately, the Veritus Group put out a great guide to Finding that elusive big gift. The surprising truth? Your next big donor is likely already in your database!

Here are their steps:

  1. Find a pool of donors – like anyone who’s given $1000 in any year of the last four years
  2. Create a caseload of 150 qualified donors per full-time major gift officer – as a CEO, you have other responsibilities so should have only 50-75.
  3. Create a revenue goal for every donor
  4. Create a strategic plan for every donor
  5. Divide your caseload into A, B, and C tiers or levels
  6. Work your plan
  7. Keep focused
  8. Be accountable

You can read their detail at http://veritusgroup.com/finding-that-elusive-big-gift/.

The hardest part? The discipline to create the plan and the focus to work the plan. As a leader, your team needs you to help with the accountability. Not in a “gotcha” where-is-the-lottery-winning-donor sort of way. But in following the agreed on plan.

You can do this. And if you have a history of donors, you likely already have begun a relationship with your next major donor.



  1. 4 things to check as you begin 2016 | FundraisingCoach.com - […] major gifts is your thing, I blogged about that to nonprofit executive directors over on The Concord Leadership Group…

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