Where to look for major donors

There's a common misperception in fundraising that you need to look for major donors somewhere outside of your organization.

That is simply not true.

The real place you need to start is right here in your own backyard – and that’s by looking at donors who are already giving to your organization.

If you’re an organization with even a small established donor base, chances are there are donors already giving to you who are interested in making a greater investment in your organization.

I’ve been hearing lots of interesting stories of donors with significant capacity who are starting out by testing organizations with modest gifts. They might start off with a gift of $50, of $75 – and over the course of time (and great, meaningful relationship building), I've seen those gifts turn into six or seven-figure transformational donations.

Start with those closest to you. You already have donors who are ready to be meaningfully engaged and introduced to more aspirational opportunities to create change.

Here are two great places to start building your major gift pipeline:

1. Look closely at those supporters who are giving larger than average donations – depending on the size of your shop, it could be $1,000, $500 or even $250.

2. Another important clue can be found in a donor’s cumulative lifetime giving history, and the date of their first gift – many very generous supporters are long-time donors who are flying under your radar, because they’re giving smaller monthly or annual gifts that add up significantly over time.

If you want more detail on the specific donor lists to review to start building your major gift pipeline, you can download my free Blueprint for Major Gift Success - 4 steps to raising more 5, 6 and 7-figure donations (at any size shop).

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising over $100M across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. Find out how to raise more 5, 6 and 7-figure donations your non-profit - book your free Major Gift Strategy Session now.

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