4 ways to get ready for more major gifts


Are you ready for more major gifts for your mission?

This can turn into a bit of a trick question if you’re not careful. 

Organizational readiness is important, for sure - especially if you are embarking on a multi-year capital campaign, or making an ambitious new fundraising target public. 

But here’s the thing…

Too often, we allow thoughts like “we’re not ready!” to get in the way of taking action on raising more money with major gifts. 

That’s why I’m sharing 4 surefire ways you can get ready for more major gifts. Let’s get started!

Ask yourself and your team million dollar questions

  • What are you missing that would make your life easier when it comes to major gift fundraising? 

Here’s a common example that comes up when I’m speaking with fundraisers and nonprofit leaders: 

“Fundraising would be so much easier If I just had more time!”  

Now here's the thing - more time is not going to magically appear unless you commit to making the time. Successful fundraisers decide on their priorities, and create the time they need to follow through. 

I know this is where it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed, especially if you are already stretched thin - so I want to remind you: 

When you commit to taking small actions, and carving out even small increments of time to focus on major gifts, and you repeat this consistently? 

That’s when you get big fundraising results.

  • What beliefs do you have about major gifts that might be getting in the way? 

Here’s a simple example of a belief that gets in the way of MG all the time, and it ties right back to our topic today! 

“We’re not ready to raise major gifts…” 

It’s just a belief. 

When you believe you’re not ready, or that you can’t take action until everything is perfect (more on this below!) - it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

So take some time to think about this - what are some of the beliefs you might have around major gifts? 

Identify these, and take the time to write them down - no matter how silly they sound! No one else needs to see them - keep them somewhere safe, because we’ll return to them in a moment.

  • If a donor called you tomorrow to offer you a $1M donation - what would you do with it?

Want to get your organization thinking bigger when it comes to more major gifts for your mission?

This is the magic question!

You can scale this up (or down) depending upon the size of your organization. The key here is to make it a stretch. 

What seems like an impossible dream donation for you? Maybe it's $10 million, maybe it's $100 million - the sky’s the limit. It’s your imaginary gift, it can be exactly as big as you want it to be!

When you start asking yourself, your team, or your board this question, it can help you shake things up, get you thinking bigger. 

Don’t get bogged down here figuring out exactly how you’d spend every dollar, or trying to create a detailed budget to spend your imaginary million…

This is a creative exercise - you’re building an inspiring vision, you’re painting a picture of the incredible impact a gift that size could have. 

Let go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect before you get started

If I had to name just one thing that I see getting in the way of growing your fundraising, it’s perfectionism.

Often, perfectionism is just taken for granted as a necessary feature of major gift fundraising. There’s a perception that major donors demand perfection, that they will settle for nothing less than perfection 100% of the time. 

Here’s the problem with that approach:

Perfection is an impossibility, period. 

When you expect perfection from yourself, or your team, that inevitably leads to overthinking, and overthinking typically just leads to more overthinking - and that means getting stuck, and inaction.

So, what’s the solution to this? It’s simple: 

Make a decision and commit

Decide: what is one small step you can take to build your major gift momentum?

One of the easiest ways to take action and build momentum is to pick up the phone on a regular basis to talk with your donors. 

When I’m working with coaching clients, that’s when I see their major gift fundraising really take off: when they decide to have more meaningful conversations with their donors, and when they schedule that into their calendars and honour that commitment.

If you are still on the fence and you feel you aren’t ready to grow your major gifts, here is my final tip…

Ask yourself, what is keeping me from taking action? 

Go ahead and write that out, starting your sentence like this: “I’m not taking action on growing my major gifts because…”

This is a great time to look over those beliefs you wrote down that may be holding you back. 

Go through them one by one, and ask yourself - is this true? Do I have any evidence, or can I think of any examples, to the contrary? If I flip it around, what’s the opposite of this belief? And when I think about the opposite of that belief - how does it feel?

Play with this a little bit, and maybe you’ll find the reasons you aren’t taking action aren’t quite as rock solid as you first believed - and this is great news!

Chances are, you are more ready to raise a truly transformational gift than you think. 

If you want to dive deeper into this topic you can check out this videoAnd be sure to let me know in the comments - what’s holding you back from raising more major gifts for your mission this year? Can’t wait to hear from you!

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