I have seen major gifts fundraising done in two significantly different ways. One involves an active fundraising board who participates in all the major gifts solicitations for the organization. The other involves staff cultivating and growing these relationships themselves. Each of these two models focus on a different component of the traditional linkage, ability, interest concept I mentioned earlier this week.
Using your board to fundraise leans heavily on linkage as the major tool for fundraising. As community and business leaders, board members are a great connection to the community and to new donors. Board members can speak as peers with donors urging them to give at a similar level, as board members are often already major donors themselves. This method of major gifts fundraising focuses on the relationships board members have with the community as the primary way of soliciting gifts.
Other organizations do the majority of their major gifts fundraising through giving officers. These staff members are assigned a portfolio of donors with whom they grow and establish a relationship. This kind of fundraising focuses more on the interest and ability continuum of fundraising. Major Gift Officers use events and 1-on-1 interactions with these individuals to further connect them to the organization. Giving focuses on areas of interest within the organization as the primary way to sustain and grow financial support.
How does your organization operate? Do you primarily use board members or staff? Or, do you mix it up a little bit and use both?