major gifts fundraising phases

The 3 Phases of Major Gifts Fundraising

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Quite clearly, nonprofit fundraising is one of those worth-doing things for millions of charitable missions out there. But in which fundraising activities is your nonprofit investing to actually bring the gratification, freedom, (and tangible results) of doing it right?    

If you hadn’t gathered by our previous little chats, Major Gifts Fundraising should be a HUGE priority for your nonprofit organization. Stale fundraising tactics divined decades ago – which, for some reason, charities still cling to like an unhealthy relationship – no longer work in the 21st century. 

So I’m here to discuss Major Gifts Ramp-Up. And more specifically, how to tackle the model correctly with its three phases. This article dives into those phases, why they’re important, and some wisdom for bringing in five-, six-, and even seven-figure major gifts to your nonprofit.    

Major Gifts Fundraising: Let’s Explore the Major Gifts Ramp-Up Model

Major Gifts Ramp-Up has three stages: 

  • The planning phase
  • The building phase
  • The inviting phase 

Here’s a capsule look at how each works toward identifying wealthy philanthropists whose priorities align with your mission, courting them, and securing not only hefty donations, but more importantly, their expertise in successful enterprise. 

The Planning Phase

During the planning phase, you align your organization with the management philosophy that money is king. (Or, as my good friend and MGRU architect Jimmy LaRose says, “Money is oxygen.”) Without it, your nonprofit is destined to wither and die. 

In this phase, you learn about Major Gift Fundraising and what it means for your agency to do it. You go through an oizational development process that readies you for major gift management. 

You also begin to craft a knockout case for support that excites people of wealth. The case for support is the backbone of the Major Gifts Fundraising model. You establish your campaign leadership. And you coordinate an 18-month calendar with all the existing and campaign tasks necessary for your nonprofit’s success.

The planning phase usually takes about six months to complete.

The Building Phase

Here, you start the building phase and the planning phases together. You implement them concurrently. 

During the building phase, you identify your donor prospects, people with the means to give game-changing gifts. You coordinate and execute a highly choreographed awareness event. This event is not an ask event. Its purpose is to introduce people of wealth to your work. 

After the event, you develop a detailed cultivation plan for each event attendee. After everyone is contacted, you hold a signature ask event, again carefully choreographed and executed. You raise lots of major gifts to your nonprofit mission and, because you’ve created memorable donor experiences, your donors are on cloud nine.

The Inviting Phase

This is the last phase leading to a resounding Major Gifts Fundraising campaign success. The Inviting Phase takes anywhere from three to six months. During this phase, you build a cabinet of excited donors. You work with your campaign leadership to visit your ask event guests to ask for bigger gifts. You and your campaign leaders conduct personal interviews at a place chosen by the donor. 

Then you make your second ask! You make your finest appeal for their finest gift

You ask for money to help you meet your nonprofit’s operating expenses, growth goals, capital needs, and endowment goals. And, because you built an ironclad case for support, you watch people agree to make another game-changing gift when asked. 

And then you, your team, and your donors celebrate campaign success! You follow up with donors by communicating the change their donation is making.

The Individual Steps

There are 13 defined steps between the different phases of the model. They are:

  1. Management philosophy
  2. Major gifts fundraising
  3. Organizational development
  4. Case for support
  5. Advancement calendar
  6. Prospect identification 
  7. Non-fundraising awareness event 
  8. Prospect cultivation 
  9. Signature ask event
  10. Campaign leadership 
  11. Campaign interviews
  12. Three-part ask
  13. Campaign success

Major Gifts Fundraising for Your Nonprofit Mission & Sustainability

Major Gifts Ramp-Up is unique. It consistently rakes in MILLIONS for the charitable sector. And it’s not just for the BIG nonprofits with ample resources. Charities big and small, representing every possible community service sector, have benefited by prioritizing the Major Gifts Fundraising model. 

Other more traditional nonprofit fundraising avenues (grant writing, direct mail appeals, planned giving, etc.) are terrific as SUPPLEMENTS to a well-rounded campaign. But in comparison, Major Gifts Fundraising ALWAYS yields better ROI.

It provides every nonprofit professional with a skill set that originates new champions from scratch. If you’re a veteran fundraiser, you’ll supercharge your existing program by implementing new systems that are proven to provide great increase. If you’re just starting out, you’ll achieve your great dream because you’re implementing a sound plan that raises game-changing money. 

Next Steps

The Major Gifts Ramp-Up model is the best major giving model we’ve seen in the field. It’s efficient and effective, giving you an extremely high return on your investment. Major Gifts Fundraising ensures you reach your fundraising goals, achieve personal success, and have time for a life outside work.

Check out Major Gifts Ramp-Up for yourself. Attend one of MGRU’s upcoming virtual or in-person events. Hope to see you there! 

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