Major Gift Fundraising Focus


Did you know that 80% of your revenue comes from about 20% of your donors? Did you also know that about 85% of all fundraising revenue in the United States comes from individuals?

These numbers tell us that we should focus a majority of our fundraising energy on developing a major donor plan/system that works. If you don’t have an actionable Major Donor program you are literally leaving money on the table that you could be using to further your mission.

We’ve worked with hundreds of organizations who have raised millions of dollars from major donors.  The tips shared below are based on real-world results for what works and what doesn’t work when raising money through the mail.

  • Have an offer that works!  Great offers state a problem that is easy to understand, a solution that is easy to understand, the cost of the solution seems like a good deal and there is urgency for the donor to respond.
  • Get to know your donors.  Know their likes, dislikes and charitable interests.
  • Ask the donor to do exactly what you want them to do.  “Please write a check today, to help solve this problem, by this date.”
  • Ask for more money than you think you should ask for.  It’s not your job to downgrade the donors gift.  The donor will offer a lower amount if you ask for too much.

At the end of the day your focus should be on donor retention and lifting their giving from current levels to higher levels.  This improvement will happen if you follow a strategy like Ask, Thank, Report, Repeat and apply the clear thinking noted above.

Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you’ve always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. Jim has 30 years’ experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a global $100m nonprofit. He co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money.

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