JGA Blog

Seeking Big Gifts: Steps to build your major gifts fundraising program

May 28, 2019

Building a systematic major gifts program can have a dramatic impact on your fundraising ROI (Return on Investment). Establishing a major gifts program that is systematic involves creating a purposeful, organized, and ongoing program for identifying and cultivating relationships with donors that leads to solicitation and stewardship of major gifts.

A successful major gifts program also entails focusing your efforts on those prospects who are likely to make the largest financial impact on your organization. A sharper focus on your top prospects will allow you to better steward your institution’s resources and work more effectively and efficiently.

We believe success in securing major gifts is so important for nonprofits, that Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates (JGA) partnered with the Chronicle of Philanthropy to provide a curated collection of Chronicle articles and JGA insights on major gift fundraising.

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High Net Worth Donors Have Increased Giving Amounts Since 2015

October 25, 2018

JGA is pleased to share with you news about the latest study on trends in high net worth philanthropy from U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. We were honored to host a webinar shortly after the release to discuss the report in detail with Dr. Una Osili, the report's author at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and William Jarvis, with U.S. Trust, Bank of America's Private Wealth Management.

The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, published by U.S. Trust in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, finds that wealthy Americans continue to be generous with their time and money, increasing the amount they gave on average to charitable causes and organizations in 2017, including giving in the wake of natural disasters. The biennial study shows that 90 percent of high net worth (HNW) households gave to charity last year, and 48 percent volunteered time to nonprofit organizations and causes.

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How to Use Prospect Research in Your Major Gift Fundraising

October 16, 2018

By Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President, DonorSearch

Major gift fundraising is an important part of any nonprofit’s long-term strategy. We all know the 80/20 rule: 80% of your nonprofit’s donations come from 20% of its supporters. For many organizations, this has now become the 90/20 rule. But, finding enough people with the capacity to give major gifts and a connection to your organization can complicate this ratio.

With smarter prospect research, your major gifts officer has a better chance of securing those all-important donations with maximum efficiency.

Prospect research is looking at publicly available information to determine who in your community might be willing and able to give major gifts to your nonprofit. Some commonly considered data points include both wealth indicators and previous philanthropic behavior.

So how can your team best combine the insights of prospect research with your major gifts fundraising strategy? Our five best tips are:

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Defining Campaign Success: Using a campaign to grow major gift donors

August 14, 2018

Like many others, I began my career in fundraising by attending the Principles and Techniques of Fundraising class at The Fund Raising School at Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy. As a new member of the development team at the Indiana University Foundation more than 20 years ago, I learned that, typically, an organization could anticipate that 80% of the dollars raised in a fundraising campaign would come from 20% of the campaign donors. The so-called 80/20 rule.

Much has changed in the last twenty years. Mirroring, or perhaps in response to, the changing landscape of wealth distribution in our society, fundraising campaigns have more significant dollar goals that rely on fewer and fewer donors in order to achieve success. Campaigns are now typically based upon the projection that 90% of the dollars will come from 10% of the campaign donors. In some corners of the nonprofit sector, notably higher education, successful campaigns may have 95% or more of the dollars contributed from as few as 5% of the campaign donors.

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Important Considerations for Establishing Major Gift Metrics

September 19, 2017

Fundraising success is increasingly a vital component of an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.  Campaigns have increased in prevalence and frequency and often are dependent upon 90% of the dollars being contributed by 10% of the donors.  (In higher education, this can reach 95% of the dollars from 5% of the donors, a threshold nearly unheard of 15 years ago.) This leads many organizations to rely upon major gift fundraising at all times, rather than merely for special projects of need.

At the same time, it has become more common for boardmembers to have backgrounds in businesses that foster a sales culture and therefore look for data-driven accountability from the nonprofits they support.  How can we modernize our approach to goal-setting and accountability without sacrificing what makes philanthropy so different from sales transactions?

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Maximizing Major Gift Fundraising

February 27, 2017

Did you know development programs that rely solely on transactional giving, like direct mail and special events, generally have a return of investment (ROI) of about 200 percent, while programs that are relationship-based and major gift focused can enjoy a much higher ROI of 500 percent or more?

That’s why it’s so important to have a diversified development program with a strong and systemized major and planned gifts component. Now is a good time to evaluate your major gift practices to make certain that you are being as effective as possible when you, your volunteers, development staff, and CEO are cultivating major gift prospects.

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High Net Worth Donors and Their Impact on Major Gift Fundraising

November 01, 2016

 

Major gift donors are crucial for the ongoing sustainability of your nonprofit’s mission. In fact, high net worth donors often provide as much as 94% of the funds for nonprofit campaign initiatives. So, it is important that we understand their giving patterns, preferences, and motivations.

The 2016 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy released this week is the sixth edition of the biennial study, researched by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and provides nonprofits with valuable insights on this important donor demographic. The report surveyed 1,435 U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their primary home) and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more.

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Approach Donors Holistically: Integrate Planned and Major Gifts

August 23, 2016

Donors don’t compartmentalize their philanthropy in the same way that an organization distributes staff responsibilities on an org chart. As organizations are cultivating their prospects and having conversations with them about potential gifts, the conversation needs to be holistic – integrating annual, planned and major gifts into the discussions when appropriate based on the donors’ needs.

Has your development operation fully integrated major and planned giving?

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Identifying Major Gift Donors: 6 Prospect Research Data Types to Study

July 25, 2016

Looking for strategies to identify major gift donors? We’ve asked Bill Tedesco with DonorSearch to provide some insights and he shares that prospect research is a great place to start.

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Building a Systematic Approach to Major Gifts Fundraising

July 07, 2016

Over the years, JGA has often been asked to help nonprofit organizations move from a transactional fundraising model – focused heavily on direct mail and special events – to a long-term sustainability model. The latter approach is based on building donor relationships that encourage and create meaningful opportunities for philanthropic investment in an organization. A key to success in this relationship-building, major gifts-focused model is a formal prospect management approach.

How do you put in place such a system?  What actions need to be taken to formalize an ongoing program of major gifts fundraising?  The following are four fundamental steps in implementing a systematic approach to major gift development:

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