Acquiring major gifts is a critical task for every charity. All fundraising programs need a healthy mix of major donors, mid-level donors, and “smaller” donors, which helps form a sustainable flow of giving at all levels of the donor pyramid and provides ample room for donor upgrading and downgrading.

An over-reliance on major giving can be precarious for any nonprofit, especially smaller organizations. If the nonprofit budget centers on a few major gifts every year to meet a quota, it can spell disaster–especially if one of the major donors stops giving. Inversely, if there is an over-reliance on smaller donors the nonprofit may never be able to reach scale and grow their fundraising sufficiently to support programmatic growth and expansion.

The key is balance. At a bare minimum, every nonprofit must have a major donor strategy in place that can be incorporated in the ongoing annual fundraising program.

In a recent survey conducted by Bloomerang, 53% of nonprofits consider major gifts to be thoroughly vital, while almost 59% don’t even have a planned strategy for acquiring major donations. On top of that, 68% of the nonprofits surveyed don’t have a dedicated major gift fundraiser in place and often cite the lack of resources to successfully launch a major gift program. It does take a financial investment to grow any type of business and a major donor program is no different.

Successful fundraisers find that the results of a major gift program almost always have a significant positive return on the investment made. In many cases, over 80% of the funds raised come from 10%-20% of the donors.

In fact, it may be easier than most organizations think to launch a major gift program. The donors that could potentially be a major donor are most likely sitting right under their nose.

Review the following key factors and you just might begin to identify potential major givers and realize you can approach them without making a significant investment. In the vast majority of cases a potential major donor is 1) already in your donor database; 2) has a deep passion for your mission perhaps demonstrated by volunteering or attending a special event; 3) has been donating to your organization for multiple years; 4) demonstrates personal wealth such as owning their own business or is known in the community to have made large gifts to other organizations.

If you can identify people that fit this profile you can easily begin a major donor program.

For further insight, please read: Key findings about major gifts from nonprofit fundraising survey