Last year was something of an annus horribilis for the charity world and the implications of the changes to fundraising that have been set in motion are still being discussed and assessed. But there is one area of fundraising that has remained above the fray and stayed out of the headlines – major gift fundraising.
Major gift fundraising is often seen as the preserve of larger charities, but the truth is that there is no reason why small and medium-sized charities should not have a successful major gift programme themselves. Remember, a major gift is what you consider it to be. A single donation of a few hundred pounds can have a significant impact upon a small charity. So do not be put-off by thinking that major gift fundraising only applies to those charities with multimillion pound targets.
Still not sure? Then just take a look at these top reasons why smaller charities should have a major gift programme:
1. Cost-effective fundraising
Major gift fundraising can be a very cost-effective method of fundraising. Although it can require an initial investment of time and personnel, the return on this investment is far greater than with most other forms of fundraising (especially when it contributes to and enhances trusts and legacy fundraising).
2. An increasing resource
As other sources of income are threatened by government cut-backs or changes to fundraising regulations, major gift fundraising promises to grow and grow. There are now more than 10,000 people in the UK with assets of £20m or more, according to the wealth intelligence firm WealthInsight, and several hundred thousand people with between £1m and £20m in assets. And thanks to the rising culture of philanthropy in the UK, they are giving away more than ever before.
3. Impact Measurement
Major gift fundraising forces you to understand and measure the impact your work is having. Major donors more than any other donor wish to see the difference their donation makes to your organisation. In order to demonstrate this impact to them, you must understand and measure it yourself. And once you can demonstrate impact to your major donors – you can demonstrate it to everyone!
Charities were accused last year of treating their donors as a commodity to be used as they pleased. But major gift fundraising can only be successful through the development of personal relationships with your prospective major donors. Major gift fundraisers have to put the needs of the donor front and centre.
5. Rich people know rich people
Not only will your major donors be a wonderful source of income, they can also be a wonderful source of new prospects. Whether it is through a one to one meeting, an exclusive dinner party, or fronting a fundraising campaign, many of your major donors will be willing and able to introduce your charity to their wealthy and influential friends.
6. It’s not just about the money
Major donors are very often experts in their field and, if you ask them, will have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to contribute to your charity regarding strategy, case for support, governance, accountability, demonstrating impact and so on. This can only benefit your charity.
7. Your charity deserves to have more funding!
This last one is the real no-brainer. Do you believe in your charity? Really believe in it? Then don’t you think you should be doing the best you can for it? And that means exploring all avenues of fundraising, including major gifts fundraising. There are wealthy people out there right now willing and able to support your charity, if you but took the time to discover them. Well, what are you waiting for?
Mathew Iredale is Senior Prospect Researcher for Shelter and the author of Prospecting for Philanthropists: how to find major donors to support your charity, published this month.
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