Major Donor Fundraising: Embrace the 80/20 Rule

Major Donor Fundraising

You know 80% of your fundraising revenue will come from 20% of your donors, right?

I have found this to be true for organizations large and small.  And the ratio is closer to 90/10 in many organizations I work with.

Seeing this again and again taught me the importance of building relationships with major donors.  Specifically, you need to help them to believe in and support your mission and work.

Major donor development isn’t easy work. It takes time.  Here are my top tips for you as you build your major donor development plan;

  • Relationships take time and listening. Take the time to get to know your donors and prospects.  Know their passions and interests.  Look for alignment between what the donor values and what a gift to your organization will do.
  • Always let your donor or prospect know why you want to meet. Let them know if you’re going to ask them for a gift (or not) in advance.  There’s no surer way to disappoint a donor than by Asking them when they aren’t expecting it, or not asking them when they are ready.
  • When it is time to ask them for a gift, ask them for more than you think they might give. It’s your job to be bold on behalf of your beneficiaries — and it’s the donor’s job to lower the amount if needed.  If you’ve built the relationship well, they’ll be honored you asked.  Donors will direct the conversation and lead you to the gift amount they want to give if you give them time.
  • Ask your major donors once or at the most twice a year for a significant gift. Then use the other 11 months to Thank them and Report back to them what their gift accomplished.

What I’ve just outlined is the basic framework for cultivating new donor prospects and then leveraging the Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat rhythm on an annual basis. By taking this approach you will have more donors saying yes and you will raise more money.

Jim Shapiro
Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. He has 20 years experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a $300m nonprofit. He then co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money. Jim is married, serves his community by coaching high school football, and has three children.

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