How to Find Major Gift Prospects

major gift fundraising

Starting a major gifts program for your nonprofit organization is a great idea, given the potential for impact on your organization’s mission. If you haven’t yet, check out the five must-have tools you’ll want to have in place to support your major gifts work.

Of course, if you’re going to raise major gifts, you’ll also need prospective donors you can ask to support your work and mission. Use your donor database to identify prospects for your major gifts program by running two reports:

1. Your highest donors

Your highest donors are those currently contributing the largest gifts to your organization. Run a report showing cumulative giving by individuals (not foundations or corporations) over the past two years.

Look at cumulative giving rather than one-time-only gifts so you’ll include donors who give smaller amounts per gift but whose gifts total a significant amount annually. For example, if a major gift for your organization is $1,000, and you search only for gifts of $1,000 and above, you would miss a donor giving $100 per month with annual giving totaling $1,200.

2.  Your most loyal donors

Loyal donors are those who have been giving to your organization for a long time, say five, ten, even 20 years or more. These folks may not make large gifts (perhaps only $10 or $20 annually) but they are very loyal to your organization and clearly invested in your mission.

Given that the average nonprofit donor retention rate is only 41 percent (and an abysmal 27 percent for new donors), your loyal donor pool is a valuable asset. It makes sense to cultivate these key donors to help grow their relationship with your mission. As a bonus, loyal donors are good prospects for planned giving.

For the database report itself, search for donors who have given in three or four of the past five years or six or seven of the past ten years (even loyal donors can miss a year). Try running both variations and see what you get.

Put it all together

These two lists of current organizational donors – your highest donors and your most loyal donors – are the backbone of your major gifts prospect list.

If your organization is brand new and you have only a few current donors (or none at all) no problem! Tune in next week when I’ll write about how to build a prospect list from scratch.

What suggestions do you have for building a major gifts prospect list? Please share in the Comments box below. Your fellow fundraisers and I thank you!

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