Major giving is a major deal for nonprofits. Rightly so! Some organizations report that more than 80% of their donations come from less than 20% of their donors. Want to know who tips the balance in that direction? Major gift donors.
With the help of just one major gift, your organization is suddenly far more financially free to serve your mission. That just becomes truer as you build out an entire major gift program.
Whether you’re in the position to stand to benefit from improving your major gift game or you’re trying to maintain your stellar success, fundraising events are a great supplement to your efforts.
With these three ideas, you’ll be sure to increase major giving at your organization.
For a comprehensive look at major giving, check out our Major Gift Officer Survival Guide.
1. A Formal Gala
Galas are one of the most popular fundraising events for a reason. Their glitz and glamour are a perfect complement to a great night of fundraising.
Make it a black tie event and pull out all the stops. Sell both seats and whole tables to interested parties. Hire a live band. Serve gourmet food. You want your gala to be a night to remember.
Use the gathering to promote all of the work your organization has been able to accomplish thanks to the generosity of your supporters. Focus on what their giving has enabled you to do and show concrete examples of the positive impact their funding has had.
Encourage donations throughout the evening, and you’ll raise money both through ticket sales and donations during the gala.
Remember that this event can be about more than your major gift donors. Invite a variety of supporters from advocates to volunteers. Take advantage of the evening to forge bonds with all the people who are important to your organization, not just your major gift donors.
2. An Auction
Auctions, live and silent alike, combine charity with many people’s favorite activity...discount shopping!
If you can solicit items high in value, an auction can be a fun and exciting night out for your major gift donors. Many of these major-gift-focused events are less about securing gifts of that size in the moment and more about fostering a stronger relationship with your donors and prospects. A perfectly cultivated auction list, however, can accomplish both.
As you set about gathering gifts-in-kind, go to your top-level fundraisers, organizational leadership, board of directors, and volunteers. Form a committee to gather donations, draft some common item request copy (phone scripts, one-page handouts, etc.) and send them out to make calls to friends and local businesses.
At big auctions, the most popular items have a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ feel. People bid on items they normally don’t just go out and buy with their own money elsewhere. VIP tickets to concerts, floor seats to NBA games, all-inclusive vacations, and the like are all popular auction packages.
As a supplement to the more common, popular items, consider what your organization can offer that is unique to your work. Maybe you’re running a capital campaign to build a new building; you could offer to name a room in the building after the winning bidder. Those items with a personal touch will resonate with all of your dedicated supporters who are in attendance.
3. Golf Tournament
Golf tournaments are the perfect opportunity to get your major donors out in the fresh air for a day of healthy competition.
Players pay-to-play and get sorted into groups of four for the tournament. In addition to the traditional competition, you can add in fun contests like a hole-in-one challenge and best putt.
Golf tournaments are great social and business networking events and tend to draw the major donor crowd. It might be a good opportunity to meet with new major donor prospects in your area or even reinvigorate your relationship with past donors.
Although the events lend themselves to raising the big bucks, you can add in low-key, smaller and mid-level donation options through innovative giving avenues, such as text-to-give campaigns, throughout the day on the green.
Plan for a closing ceremony to announce the tournament’s winners. While your organization has the attention of all the attendees, have a higher-up from your nonprofit make a donation appeal to close out the day’s festivities.
Even if major gifts aren’t your current focus, there are still plenty of other excellent fundraising opportunities that can come from these three events. Tweak them to fit your nonprofit’s specific needs and have fun with it.
Looking for even more advice? Attend a fundraising conference to learn from your peers in the community. Even the most experienced fundraisers serve to benefit.
Bill Tedesco is a well-known entrepreneur in the field of philanthropy with over 15 years of experience leading companies serving the fundraising profession.
Bill has personally conducted original research to identify markers of philanthropy and has developed modeling and analytical products that use those markers to accurately predict future giving.
Since 2007, Bill has been the founder, CEO and Managing Partner of DonorSearch.
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