A Major Gift Might Be Smaller Than You Think

Published on September 29, 2017

Brian Saber

President of Asking Matters
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“So today I’d like to invite you to make a gift to our organization of $200,000.”

People hear “major gift” and they think capital campaign, the name on the side of a building, a gift that big shot fundraisers get.

And that can make those of us responsible for raising money for nonprofits feel anxious just by hearing those very words.

Now look, major gift fundraising is absolutely critical for most organizations. I’ll get to why that is shortly.

But here’s what I know… a major gift does not have to mean anything so large. Here’s how I define the term “major gift.”

A major gift is any gift worth cultivating and soliciting in person. Period.

If it’s worth your time, it’s a major gift. It doesn’t have to be for something special. It doesn’t have to be part of any campaign. It doesn’t have to be six- or seven-figures.

It just has to be worth your time, your effort, and your money.

For a new, young organization, that might be $1,000 (try not to aim for $500). For a larger, more established organization, it might be $5,000 or $10,000.

Many larger institutions make the mistake of setting it too high and leaving a lot of money on the table. A full-time major gifts officer at a university should easily be worth his/her cost if soliciting $5,000 and $10,000 gifts day in and day out. I can even make the case for $2,500 gifts.

Why You MUST Focus on Major Gifts

Major gifts are the gifts that keep on giving. When an individual like me makes a major gift to your organization, I’ve now got a stake in it. I’ve made an investment.

And the best way I can ensure that investment pays off is to do everything going forward to help the organization. Including giving again. And again.

Individuals are easily the most loyal donors and often their donation amounts increase over time.

And when an individual like me has been cultivated and solicited in person – when I have a personal relationship with the organization because someone has taken the time to get to know me – it makes the bond even stronger.

What Slows Us Down

Fear of asking. We’re uncomfortable because it’s we’re winging it, or we’ve never been taught, and we don’t know the best way to approach it. And so, we take it personally. It feels as if we’re on the line every moment, and that stops us dead in our tracks.

It’s easy to put it off or even revert to things that feel less personal. Things like special events, direct mail, crowdfunding, and proposals to foundations and corporations.

But what I absolutely know is this. Those approaches will never be the key to fulfilling our vision and having the impact we want.

How do you get over the fear? The sense you’re not doing it well? With proper training. Learning the ins and outs of the art and science of asking people for money.

I’ve trained thousands of people who started out HATING to ask for money. But with the training they actually saw that’s it’s possible. That they really can do it. And once you learn the process and how everyone has a personal way of asking – what I call an “Asking Style,” and you learn how to apply your Asking Style to your approach, guess what happens?

You begin to get comfortable asking for major gifts. And your nonprofit begins to thrive because of you.

Every nonprofit fundraiser wants to get better at this role. Every single one.

This is what I’ve taught at Asking Matters for the last eight years. I invite you to join me right now and learn how to become a great asker. Inside Asking Matters, that’s what you learn how to become.

You need to get over whatever is stopping you from cultivating and soliciting major gifts if you want to see you and your organization succeed like never before.

Join Asking Matters today. Not next week or next month, but today. The doors are open to new members right now but only through Wednesday, March 21st and then membership won’t be publicly available again until some time next Fall.

It costs less than a tall black coffee-a-day at Starbucks to learn the art and science of asking for gifts. There’s even a money back guarantee if you try it out and decide it’s not for you. So it’s an investment with no downside.

Want to learn more?



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