Getting to a major gift can be a long and tedious process where strategic engagement must be matched with a targeted solicitation to maximize giving. Throughout this process, there are distinct factors that happen along the way that will be the reason a major gift closes. Here we look at seven of those strategic factors:

Donor Centric

Major gift officers like to throw around the phrase being “donor centric. But what does it actually mean? It means listening to a prospect and uncovering what their passion is within your organization so that you can maximize their affinity. For example, just because an alumnus played basketball at your university doesn’t always mean that is where their gift will go. Go into meetings with an open mind, ask questions and most importantly, actively listen. Then you can target their engagement towards the area they are most passionate about – thus making the ask easier.


Non profit fundraising is tough for many reasons, but one is that we are not a top priority in a prospect’s life. This means that fundraisers must be persistent to stay on the donor’s mind. You shouldn’t feel like you are bothering the donor. More times than not, they appreciate the reminder because they are so busy with their other priorities. Staying persistent, with timely follow up and reminders, is what can be the difference in getting to a major gift.

Campus Partners

Once you find the passion of your prospect, it is best to bring in the expert that can talk in depth on the subject. By connecting the donor directly with a faculty member, their affinity will grow as they learn more about this subject. They will also develop a relationship with this faculty contact. Once the connection is made, having the faculty member help with the ask and why the funding is needed, will go a long way in closing the gift.

Multi Point Engagement

There are a lot ways to get alumni and companies involved in a university setting. This could include recruiting/hiring students, joint research, mentoring, event volunteering, senior projects and faculty connections. The more ways that a prospect is engaged, the easier the ask will be. This is because a mutually beneficial relationship builds over time through these engagements where the donor sees the value of making a gift.

Go at the Donors Pace

Fundraisers should know that donors are never in a rush to make a gift to your organization. You may have a deadline for when goals need to be met, but that isn’t the donors timeline. By speeding up that timeline, you could jeopardize the size of the gift or any gift at all. Make sure to go at the donors pace without being overbearing. They will appreciate this in the end, making your ask a more seamless process.

Earned Trust

Trust is everything in fundraising. Without earning the trust of a prospect, there is no way that you will be able to maximize their gift. One of the best ways to earn trust is to have timely follow up from all of your meetings and interactions. By having this follow up, it shows you care about the prospect and are invested in their engagement. Over time, the prospect will appreciate this and be more willing to make a gift.

Personal Attention

Going the extra mile with a donor can go a long way. This means providing unbelievable “customer service” for anything the prospect is a part within your organization. If they come for a campus event, make sure everything is set and organized for their arrival. By doing these little things to make their engagement a better experience, your solicitation will be much more effective.

Overall, with non profit budgets stretched thin, fundraisers must be able to push donors to new heights with their giving. These strategies can be used alone or in combination with each other to help get to gift maximization.

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