It’s been over a year since I introduced the Major Gifts Challenge, and the results for many small nonprofits have been amazing!
Those who stuck with the process have gotten gifts of $10,000 or more for their nonprofit for the first time ever. Others have seen their larger level gifts increase, both in quantity (frequency) and amount.
Raising Major Gifts — Who Has the Time?
However, one of the big issues that people seem to be having is sticking with the process and really dedicating 2 hours per week to raising major gifts.
(As a side note, I’ve actually found that people who’ve dedicated more than 2 hours per week have seen even better results (obvious, but true). I’ve discovered that 5 hours seems to be optimal.)
What I’ve also found is that most development directors revert to their comfort zones of events and grant writing, and don’t put in the time necessary.
You may know the definition of insanity: if you continue doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always gotten.
So do you want the same fundraising results you’ve always gotten or will you dedicate the time necessary to raise major gifts?
4 Tips to Manage Your Time to for Major Gifts
Here are some ideas from my new book, Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops, to help you find and better manage your time for raising major gifts.
1. Recruit support.
Early in the book, I discuss getting your board and executive director involved in the major gifts process. But while their involvement is vital to your success with major gifts, it doesn’t end with giving and getting.
They also need to understand that you need their support in other ways as well, including their support for giving you the time necessary to begin your major gifts program. If necessary, explain how major gifts can have a significant impact on the bottom line of your fundraising results.
This is related to recruiting support, because once you have your board on board (so to speak) with your major gifts program, it’s time to ask for help.
In addition to your board members, do you have volunteers who can be trained to input data in your database, welcome visitors, or even make the coffee?
Any task that can be taken off your plate should be so that you can put forth a few hours each week to focus on major gifts.
In the introduction of my new book about major gift fundraising, I explain that you may have to give something up in order to carve out the time you need to be putting toward major gifts. That’s what this “evaluation” stage is about.
Is there anything you’re currently spending time on that doesn’t have a significant return on investment? For example, an event that may be popular, but doesn’t actually raise much (if any) funding. If so, this might be the time to either employ delegation, put it on hold so you can concentrate on major gifts.
As in guard your time.
Each week, make sure you’ve marked the time you’ll be spending on major gifts the next week with a big red “do not disturb” X. You’ll also want to ensure that your board and other staff know that this time is devoted to major gifts and only major gifts.
If possible, set that time aside for the next year right now and plan for the tasks you may have to delegate to make those hours happen. If you’ve persuaded your board and executive director to pursue major gifts, they should be happy to see you making this program a priority!
You’ll find these tips, plus a ton of new information in Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops. This step-by-step guide is the culmination of my research conducted throughout the Major Gifts Challenge, combined with valuable feedback from dozens of Challenge participants.
Regardless of whether you’ve tried the Major Gifts Challenge before, I’m confident that this book will bring your major gift fundraising a whole new level of success.
Why Raise Major Gifts Anyway?
You and I both know that fundraising isn’t really about money — it’s about increasing your organization’s capacity to change and save lives. Whether you work for a children’s organization, a homeless shelter, an environmental group, or any number of other urgent causes, I believe in your mission.
That’s why I wrote Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops — to help you and your organization make the greatest possible impact on your community and our world.
Before closing this post, I’d like to take a moment to thank you — my small-shop clients and regular readers who took on the Major Gifts Challenge — for making this new book what it is. I’m grateful for your participation, your insights, and your suggestions, and I’m eager for your feedback and success stories as you work on major gift fundraising!
If you took the Major Gifts Challenge, I’d love to hear all about your success. Don’t be shy — share your comments below.