Rarely when a major gift solicitation is made does the donor immediately make the commitment. While your donor considers the ask, the process can seem to drag on while you wait…and wait for the decision. How can you speed up the process and close more major gifts? Simple. Deadlines are the answer – your magic remedy. A date-sensitive scenario can create a sense of urgency for your donor. The key benefit of deadlines is that they can prompt people to take action in a timely manner, and reduce the likelihood of procrastination!

Here are some examples of creating deadline scenarios:

Event Announcement

Events are always a perfect time to announce big gifts. It builds excitement. If you have one coming up, encourage your prospect to make their commitment before the event. It’s a win win for the donor and the event. Ex. “The Mumford Summer Gala is next month, we would really like to announce your professorship gift at this premier event. This would highlight your generosity and help encourage others to give.”

Matching Gift

A matching gift challenge campaign is just what it sounds like: A challenge is given to donors to raise a certain amount of money, with a matching gift component, by a certain amount of time. Those challenges start at a particular time and may have a limited deadline. If your major gift donor is a potential target to lead a matching gift challenge, share the deadline and the impact their lead gift will make. Ex. “We are launching a matching gift challenge in three weeks. Your gift would be the match to jump start the campaign and encourage others to give as well.”

Board Meetings

If your prospect is a member of a board at your university and you have an upcoming meeting, offer to use this time to announce their gift at that meeting. Ex. “If you are able to make this gift in the next two weeks, we would like to announce it at the next Board of Trustees meeting. Your gift would be an inspiring example to encourage other board members to consider a gift as well.”

Scholarship Timing

Scholarships are typically given out prior to the fall semester in order for students to calculate their financial packages. Ex. “Please consider making your scholarship gift before July 1st. This will ensure that the student will receive it for the fall semester. Your investment will make a tremendous impact on the university and our ability to provide bright and deserving students access to a transformative educational experience.”

Leadership Meeting

If you have an upcoming internal meeting with university leadership, leverage that to your advantage. Prospects appreciate being made to look good, especially in the eyes of the president. Ex. “I have a leadership meeting next week with the president to update him on fundraising efforts and it would be great to let him know your gift is happening.”


Fundraising campaigns have set goals and ending dates. As the ending date nears, encourage your prospect to be the donor that helps to push campaign over the top. Ex. “Booking your gift before the Mumford University campaign ends will help us be successful in reaching our goal. We are only $250k away from the goal. Help us pass the finish line!”

Program Support

If the major gift supports a program that starts at a specific time, be sure to highlight that information. Ex. “Mumford University is in need to secure these funds before January 1st. Without them we may not be able to offer the 2022 Summer Bridge Program that will impact more than 100 students.”

Faculty Support

If the gift supports a faculty or staff position, stress the urgency that the recruitment process needs to start immediately. Ex. “With your gift, we can begin the process of recruiting and acquiring the best faculty/staff before other universities make an offer first.”

Deadlines. After all, your donors can’t meet one if they don’t know about it. Use them to your advantage!

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