What is a Major Gift?

I am often asked, “What is a major gift? Is it $1,000 . . . $5,000 . . . $10,000?” My reply is that a major gift isn’t determined by its size. It’s determined by the way you obtain it. This is true whether yours is a small arts organization, a community college or a large research university. Here are a few simple characteristics that define a major gift:

  • It is based on a thorough knowledge of the prospective donor’s values and interests;
  • It is obtained by following a strategy of discovery and engagement;
  • Interactions are guided and tracked by a moves management system;
  • The ask isn’t made until you have determined a convergence between the prospective donor’s interests and your organization’s vision;
  • It is obtained by a face-to-face ask.

It’s not uncommon for large gifts to be secured by short circuiting this process and going straight to the ask. But that approach will never secure the type of gift that can be obtained by carefully building a relationship that leads to a mutually beneficial decision. A precipitate ask might secure a large gift, but it doesn’t advance a relationship that will lead to a truly major gift. The path to a major gift is to develop a relationship built on a convergence of the donor’s interests and the organization’s vision for a better tomorrow.

Learn more about cultivating strong relationships here.

Community Connections Rich Gross Solutions

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Each week, our team of experts will put share their experiences, tips and viewpoints in all areas of higher education consulting, leadership, and fundraising. We're a team that consists of tenured individuals who have made it their life’s work to help solve some of the issues surrounding community colleges today. Some of our topics include:

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