Like any other profession, major gift fundraising comes with its own set of tools. Before a major gift fundraiser raises a single dollar for their organization, they need to equip their fundraising toolbox with the right tools to succeed. The fundraiser’s toolbox contains the fundraising goal, a major gift table, a list of prospects, a team of volunteers, a case statement, and a fundraising budget. In this six part series we’ll discuss each of these tools and how they are used to successfully acquire donations.
The most important of all the major gift tools is the fundraising goal because the other five tools of the trade are directly developed from the fundraising goal. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will do.” In the case of major gift fundraising, that expression means if you don’t how much you need to fundraise, then how can you choose the right strategy and tools to get there? Setting the right goal will keep you on track and aimed at success.
The fundraising goal is not an arbitrary number, but is based on the financial needs of the project you are raising money towards. It’s the amount your organization will need to help the clients you serve. Determining this figure is a fairly direct and simple calculation – it is the difference between the income and expenses of the project. In short, it is the cost of the portion of the project not yet funded.
For the purposes of this article series, we’ll use a hypothetical nonprofit organization that is starting a new program to help 1,000 unemployed people get retrained during the recession. The cost to provide the service is $125,000 and they’ve already received a $25,000 startup grant. Thus their fundraising goal will be $100,000. Knowing that special event fundraising would be unlikely to yield this amount of money they decide to solicit large cash gifts from individuals – a major gifts strategy.
As we can see from the scenario above, the fundraising goal is also an important tool in communicating the need and potential impact to potential donors. It tells the donor how many people will be helped and how much it will cost. This establishes the framework for the conversation that follows in soliciting a donation. Each of the tools that follow from the fundraising goal support the conversation and assist the donor determine what their personal donation will be.
In the remaining articles in this series we’ll look at developing and using:
- Major Gift Tables
- Prospect Lists
- Volunteer Teams
- Case Statements
- Fundraising Budget