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Fundraising Overview

Annual Appeals

Direct Mail Efforts

Grant Writing

Major Donors

Planned Giving

Special Events

Ways To Increase Donations

Donation Tips

Why send thank you letters to donors?

Why do people respond to fundraising appeals?

Questions donors ask when getting direct mail

Why $25 Gifts Are Important


Marketing and  Public Relations

Board Resources

Starting A Nonprofit


Links & Discounts

Printing Companies

Full Color Printing

Remittance Envelopes

Offering Envelopes

Donation Receipts




Printing And Design Online

Links & Resources

Major Donors / Major Gifts

No solicitor should ever ask for money until he has pledged or donated himself.

As your development plan is implemented you'll begin to see a pattern emerging of major contributors to your organization. Each organization sets a level of giving that they term as "major" and they focus increased time and resources on the donors that fall within that range of giving.

Major donations are usually solicited by board members and other high level donors that have pledged money themselves and feel strongly about others giving to your cause.

A packet of information is usually given to the prospective donor including general financial overviews, documents about your mission, overall organization, goals and how their gift can help. Your basic package of printed materials, brochure, business card, remittance envelope, planned giving brochures, etc., should always be included. Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression so be sure your materials are high quality and well written.

Begin with a prospect list answering the following questions:

Who knows this individual?

How well?

How much do you think they might give?


Initial approach? Letter, telephone? - keep in mind as a general rule of thumb face-to-face contact is better than a phone call, a phone call is better than a letter, and a personalized letter is better than a form letter.

Would the team approach be the best approach? or is there someone outside the organization that would be a better solicitor?

Any reason an approach at this time may not be successful?

When determining which donors are "major donors", the general rule of thumb is that if you have more than 150 individuals classified as "major donors" it is probably time to reevaluate your giving levels.


Donor Database Systems

When you first start out, your donor database may be nothing more than donor information listed in alphabetical order on index cards. As you grow a more formal database system should be implemented.

Your database will be your lifeline to your donors. If you have 1,000 donors that have donated $100 or more then it's time for a more complete donor database.

There are many software programs that are written exclusively for non-profit organizations. While some are very expensive - and very thorough so they are worth every penny - there are some other databases that you can create to save money until your organization grows further.

Here are some things to look for in a donor database software or at the very least to be sure you include in yours:

Prospect and Donor Information including background, address, salutation, affiliations, solicitation history, relations, interests, and giving history.

Gift Management for cash, stocks, in-kind gifts, pledges, matching gifts, memorial gifts, and split gifts. Be sure it records the date, fund it was given to, amount, $ amount paid on pledges and balance due.

Contact Information such as when contacts were made and by whom and when the next contact should be made.

Mail merge system for the creation of letters, envelopes, labels. This is especially important during large annual appeals, for newsletter mailings, and to target for special events.

Corporation and Foundation information similar to prospect and donor information.

Internet and remote access for those in the field.

Reporting so that you have the ability to design custom reports as well as produce the most standard such as comparing this year's annual appeal to last year's.

Restricted access for security. Be sure it can be password protected and set for individual users to secure donor information.

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