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The Major Gift Fundraising Playbook for Nonprofits. Nonprofit MBA Podcast 3.16

Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions interviews Maribeth Canning from Maribeth Canning Consulting about major gift fundraising. Major gift fundraising is the largest donations that a nonprofit organization can get from a single individual. Various different steps and tips can help your organization become successful in securing one. You need to identify, build relationships, have meetings, and then if successful you will be able to get a donation that can significantly help your cause.

How to Start Looking Into Gift Fundraising?

Nonprofits might not know where to turn when it comes to major gift donors. However, there is professional research that can be purchased that can help with finding major gift donors. For a small organization, investing in research is not a waste of your time because it will help greatly. Simply typing into Google “donor nonprofit prospect research” willMajor gift fundraising provide different companies for your organization to look at. Many software has search engines that can help you find individuals who could be compatible with your organization. You can then see who can make these major gifts.

Gift Fundraising Relationships

Major gift fundraising is all about building relationships of trust. Before there can be a major gift fundraising strategy, fundraisers need to do their research and be honest and genuine about who the particular individual or funder is. It is a process that takes time so relationships can be formed. Nonprofits should be spending a lot of time conducting this research as with will be beneficial on their end, but as well as the potential major gift donor. Doing this research ahead of time will allow you to understand who the donor is and will help figure out what motivates them, and why they want to be a part of the organization, or if they will be a good fit. As a business, you have to collectively have a gift fundraising strategy in mind. There will be a framework and discovery, which is engaging with the individual so you can get to know them better to figure out what inspires them.

Tips and Steps for Gift Fundraising

  1. After searching and looking through databases and finding a potential donor you want to find someone that is loyal. The first step that should be taken when considering a major gift donor is getting to know who the donor is. Getting into detail about the person’s life, and simply doing your due diligence and researching them. This first step will be the first impression that they receive from you so you want to gather as much information that you can to be successful in your gift fundraising.
  2. Once you find your donor and have done your research, finding a common person is extremely beneficial. Donors want to be able to trust the organization that they could be potentially supporting. There are a couple of ways of doing this, one way is having an individual who can make an introduction for you. This helps build trust quickly, and they will be able to move the conversation easily. Another way is finding someone who is a part of the board or the “family” that supports the nonprofit because they will be honest. Building this trust relationship will be moved forward a lot faster; however, if this is not possible then you will have to do as much research as possible and do it without assistance.
  3. The next step for gift fundraising is discovery. This is listening and figuring out their part, and being 100%  present without an agenda to figure out who this individual is. You need to figure out what motives and inspires them. The first meeting or call is simply finding the connection to your organization and this potential donor. By knowing what your funding priorities are in mind is helpful so you can figure out what to talk about. The key to a major gift fundraising plan is just simply be listening to what they have to say and watching their body language.
  4. During your gift fundraising discovery process, you do not want to ask for the gift in the first meeting. You have to focus on relationship building first by being invested in the mission, not just trying to make a sale. You need to see if there is an alignment there before you try to close the deal. When focusing on relationship-building ask open-ended questions, so you can get their true instant answer. Some examples are: tell me about yourself and your family, tell me about your business, how did you find success? Following their lead, you will be able to learn and provide something of value that is interesting to them if you are present and focused on them when they are speaking.
  5. After your meeting has concluded you need to think to yourself “How can I add value to this individual?” Follow them up with more information, send them additional articles about your organization, or offer a tour of your business. Another suggestion is to have them have a conversation with someone else from your organization or even an expert, this will give them more insight and another perspective. Something that can be overlooked in gift fundraising is the small things that can add a personal touch, such as, handwritten notes thanking them for speaking with you. These notes or small gestures can go a long way. Engaging them in activities can also allow them to see the program in action, and providing updates to keep them informed.
  6. When it is time to ask for major gifts, ask them to follow up and see how they might be able to help out with the business. Be honest with them, they will not be surprised when you ask them for money. When this meeting occurs it should be in a professional environment with people that they have already met, and have built that relationship with. If this is one of your first times asking for money, simply practice and prepare for it, and prepare for them to potentially say no.
  7. Finally, after the major gift has been made, make sure you thank them and think of ways to show them the impact they have made. Have meetings with them and keep them involved in the organization.

Guest Speaker: Maribeth Canning from Maribeth Canning Consulting

Maribeth Canning is a consultant who has served as a nonprofit executive, chief development officer, and foundation trustee. Ms. Canning has 20+ years of senior leadership experience creating strategy, influencing culture, and generating record fundraising results. Throughout her career, Maribeth built top-performing philanthropy programs and teams in healthcare, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She has inspired and personally secured multi-million-dollar, transformational gifts and led teams that consistently exceeded revenue expectations. Maribeth is a proven leader who succeeded in the face of uncertainty with an entrepreneurial, innovative mindset, relevant in today’s environment.

Maribeth Canning Consulting (MCC) partners with nonprofits to create resilient philanthropy. MCC’s engagements challenge leaders, create paradigm shifts, reshape culture, and upgrade operations. Maribeth strengthens skills to produce high-performing, world-class fundraising to unlock the power of philanthropy.

About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Mr. Halasnik is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions. Financing Solutions is a leading provider of loans for nonprofits in the form of a nonprofit line of credit.

Mr. Halasnik is a graduate of Rutgers University and has an Executive Masters from the MIT Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurship program. Mr. Halasnik is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Mr. Halasnik lives in New Jersey with his best friend, his wife Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.

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