Major Gifts or Middle Giving

Major Gifts fundraising traditionally provides the largest amount of fundraising dollars for an organization. With a capital campaign and most of our traditional major gifts cultivation techniques we are seeking to get the largest gift that we can from our wealthiest donors. I wonder if there might be a different way.

Think about the number of people in your city that can give a gift of a hundred thousand dollars. How many of them do you actually know? Now think about the number of people that could give a gift of a thousand dollars. How many do you know now? I suspect you could come up with a handful of names that could give a hundred thousand dollars and if you’re well connected maybe you actually know one or two of them. But, I imagine, you could think of hundreds of people that could give a regular $1,000 gift and in fact you probably even know well over 50 people in that category.

Is there a price point at which major gifts can see the very best results? I’d be interested in hearing from those of you in Major Gifts. Have you ever seen a middle giving program that has a higher ROI than a Major Gifts program? If you were to build a program with a shorter cultivation process for individual solicitations at the 1,000 level, is it possible that this could have a higher ROI than a traditional major gifts program?

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2 Responses to Major Gifts or Middle Giving

  1. It’s a fascinating question you are posing.

    If you were starting a fund raising initiative, I think your point holds. Someone new to the game will know far more people who can give smaller gifts. It perhaps reinforces the point that many groups looking to begin fundraising make the mistake of thinking that they should go after foundations and businesses, even though we all know the majority of giving is from individuals. They should get out there and start asking for those smaller gifts.

    But with an established charitable group the proportion changes. The number of donors we know we can look to for majors gifts will be higher than in this situation. The number giving smaller gifts will also be lower. Through running an annual fund and other programs, your donors self-select. You’ll be more likely to know a number of donors capable of more sizeable gifts – in fact some of them would have once been considered on your $1000 list but surprised you with a larger gift – and you also will consider many folks as incapable of making even a small gift because of years of not responding to your appeals.

  2. Leanne says:

    I think this is brilliant, Jason. I’d love to see if you can get buy-in on this.

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