What’s more important: annual giving or major gifts?

A woman in a striped shirt stands against a wall pondering, with a question mark and two conflicting arrows above her head

If we’ve been friends for a while, you’ll know that I love a powerful question - especially when it comes to building strong relationships with your donors.

But there are good questions, and there are bad questions - I think there are two big problems with the question above.

(And let’s face it - even if everyone is too polite to actually ask this question out loud, they’ve already answered it in their head, and are making decisions accordingly).

First, “annual giving” and “major giving” are artificial distinctions we fundraisers use to organize, sort, and quite frankly, create unhelpful hierarchies.

These distinctions are where silos start - and silos will always get in the way of your donor experience, and hold you back from greater fundraising success.

Second, no donor identifies themselves as a “annual donor” or a “major gift donor” - and if they do, it’s because that’s an identity we fundraisers have foist upon them!

Instead, people identify themselves as donors, long-time supporters, or friends of your cause.

They identify themselves as people who want to change our world for the better.

So, even though I’m passionate about the power of major gifts, my answer to that question is this:


Both annual giving and major gifts are equally important to your fundraising success.

And the sooner we start acknowledging their equal value, and behaving accordingly, the sooner we’ll see better results in our fundraising.

If you want to learn how annual and major gifts can come together to raise more money from engaged and happy donors, you’ll be interested in joining my VIP waitlist for Major Gift Master Plan.

I’ll be teaching a step-by-step system you can use to land 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations for your cause. Sign up today, and be the first to know when we open the door for enrollment in January 2020 - and you’ll get early access to special deals and valuable free trainings.

Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising millions of dollars across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. If you want to raise more 5, 6 and even 7-figure donations your non-profit, you can download Emma’s free Blueprint for Major Gift Success, and learn the 4 crucial steps to raising big gifts (at any size shop!)

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