Majority of Nonprofit Funding Comes From Major Donors: So How Are You Reaching Them?

Claire Axelrad
Majority of Nonprofit Funding Comes From Major Donors: So How Are You Reaching Them?

Per the most recent Fundraising Report Card, 77% of donations received are under $100. That may sound inspiring if you’re a small or young organization who believe you “don’t know any rich people”—woohoo, there’s lots of people who might give to us!—but allow me to serve you up a cold dish of reality.

These 77% of donors account for only 4.74% of all philanthropic revenues received.

That’s right.

You can seek small dollar donations until the cows come home, but if you do so exclusively—and don’t develop a major gifts fundraising program—chances are your fundraising will not achieve your monetary goals.

Don’t yell at me.

I’m just the messenger. Don’t tell me I’m devaluing small gifts. I love small gifts! But major gifts pay the bills.

It’s Not About One Being Better

This is not elitist. Developing a major gifts program does not mean you love major donors more than smaller donors. People are people, and generous people are generous people. All deserve your love and gratitude. Someone who makes $20,000 a year and makes a $50 gift might actually be more generous than someone who makes $1,000,000 a year and makes a $10,000 gift. 

So be sure to thank everyone as profusely as possible. Develop a comprehensive donor love and loyalty program to make giving to you meaningful and transformational for all your supporters.

Just make sure you don’t shy away from seeking out major donor prospects and asking for major gifts.

It’s About Funding Your Mission

Major gifts are necessary to sustain your mission.

Most of the money—80-90%—is in major individual gifts. And it's by far the most cost-effective form of fundraising, costing on average 5 to 10 cents on the dollar (compared to 20 cents for renewal appeals, 50 cents for events and $1.00-$1.25 for direct mail acquisition). 

The digital revolution has given us new tools to develop major gift relationships. Text messaging is super effective, and surprisingly personal. One great idea to assure donors will welcome your texts is to send them your contact card. Then when you call or text you can avoid “UNKNOWN CALLER” coming up and actually connect. One way to do this elegantly? My friends at RallyCorp tell me they frequently hear from nonprofits who see some of their largest donations come through text-to-donate campaigns at events. One way they make progress further developing those relationships with major donors is by sending a thank you text and card. Did you know 98% of text are opened vs. 25% for email? 

Major Gifts Course

If you’re doing everything else right, but still really aren’t touching major gifts with a 10-foot pole, then you’re working harder, not smarter. Please… let me help!

There’s an upcoming course that can teach you everything you need to know about reaching major donors. I’ve offered my own course in the past, but this year I’m suggesting the Certification Course for Major Gift Fundraisers from The Veritus Group. Why someone else’s course? Because we’re all in this together and they can offer incredible value and ongoing support.

The course will be taught by Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels, who are the best in the business and 100% share my approach to fundraising. It’s eight modules over 13 weeks and starts August 29. It’s robust content, in digestible chunks. 

At $1,997 it’s an investment, but you can’t lose: The upfront cost of this course evaporates with just one new major gift or upgrade—more than covering your investment. And after completing the first two modules, a full refund is available if you decide the course doesn't meet your needs. Plus, use our special discount code—CA5—to save $100.

You won't find such high-quality, life-changing, career-enhancing online major gift training anywhere else. It's worth it—and you're worth it.

Save Your Spot

More Help

Need to know more before you’re ready for a pricey course? I understand. Here are 10 strategies to approach major gift fundraising and six steps to fuel your major gift journey.