Major Gift Donors

A Major Gift

HR&S defines Major Gifts as a donation above EUR 1,000.
Asking for major gifts takes more time and patience than donation appeals for smaller contributions. Once HR&S has established a relationship with a potential major gift donor, we make our case and pitch the appeal. Forming that connection is crucial to major gift success.


Research Potential Major Gift Donors

1. Ability to Give

Property Ownership

Donors who own more than $2 million in real estate are 17 times more likely to give philanthropically than those who do not. By doing some research on property ownership, your nonprofit might uncover your next potential major donor.

Political Giving

People who give substantial amounts of money to political campaigns clearly have the funds to donate to a nonprofit. In fact, studies have shown that donors who give over $2,500 in FEC and charitable campaigns are 14 times more likely to give a charitable contribution than those who do not.

Stock Ownership

Over 55% of Americans hold stock in publicly traded companies. Ask contributors to donate stock to charity, also known as a securities donation, because it is up to 37% more tax effective than cash and can yield more in gifts. Also, advise donors to directly contribute stock overusing donor-advised funds, or DAF that may delay when the nonprofit will receive the gift.

2. Willingness to Give

Past Giving

Someone who has donated to HR&S in the past is likely to make a donation in the future. Even if an individual hasn’t previously donated to your HR&S, they will be more inclined to give in the future if they have a tendency to donate to other institutions.

Size of Past Donations

Someone who donates $10 to HR&S every month might not be as strong of a major giving candidate as someone who donated $1,000 a year ago. Examine past donation amounts and look at giving trends as well.

Connection to Your Organization

Donors who have a positive relationship with HR&S can be fitting candidates for major giving. When paired with other philanthropic and wealth markers, a donor’s connection to HR&S can be a good indicator of major giving.

Cultivate potential Major Gift Donors

1. An In-Person Meeting

Major gift donors deserve special care and attention if they are expected to donate a significant amount of money to HR&S. An in-person meeting is a good first step in making connections with potential major gift prospects and introducing them to HR&S.

2. Follow-Up Communications

After the initial meeting with a prospect, HR&S follows up with other communications. The prospects are included in  the HR&S e-mail newsletter list and HR&S also sends them personalised correspondence.

3. Event Invitations

Major gift prospects like to know that their money will be spent on worthwhile endeavors. Inviting HR&S major gift prospects to events will allow them to meet other donors and more of the HR&S team, helping them form a more complete picture of HR&S and the HR&S mission.

4. More Meetings

Continue meeting with the HR&S major gift prospects after the initial meeting to further develop a good relationship with them.hem specific examples of what their money is going toward.

Ask the potential HR&S Major Gift Donors

1. Formulate a Figure

During the research and cultivation stages, HR&S should have determined a ballpark amount that would suit the major gift prospect. Make sure that this figure is correct — too high and you put your donor in an awkward position; too low and HR&S leaves money on the table.

2. Practice the Ask

Before the HR&S representatives walk into the solicitation meeting, we practice the conversation. HR&S representatives pair up with coworkers and practice the different ways the team might go about asking for a donation. Additionally, HR&S representatives should prepare (but not memorize!) some keynotes and phrases to use during the meeting.

3. Prepare for Questions

HR&S representatives have to be prepared for negative or ambivalent answers. Even if with the best research, cultivation, and solicitation strategies in the world, a potential donor might not be ready to give. If HR&S receives a “Maybe,” “Not now,” or a “No,” offer other engagement opportunities like becoming an adviser or event attendance.

Following Up With Major Gift Donors

1. Say Thank You

HR&S lets the major gift donors know (more than once!) that the team appreciate their generosity. If they agree, HR&S gives them public recognition as well.

2. HR&S invites major givers to Events

In addition to the standard fundraising events that HR&S invites major gift donors to, HR&S holds special get-togethers for the top-tier givers.

3. Keep Major Gift donors in the Loop

If a major gift donor supported a specific project, then HR&S gives them regular updates on the status of that project. If they gave to the annual fund,
HR&S gives them specific examples of what their money is going toward.

HR&S Institutional Capacity

Major Gifts & Prospect Research

What Prospect Research Tells

HR&S uses prospect research to learn more about potential donors, major or otherwise. The information from a prospect screening will tell you a donor’s: i) Past giving to your organization, other nonprofits, and political campaigns. ii) Business affiliations. iii) Real estate and public stock ownership. iv) Basic information like name, address, and marital status.


Looking for potential major gift donors without prospect research is like looking for buried treasure without a map. HR&S might stumble upon some hidden treasure chest, but the odds are definitely stacked against us. Having the information that prospect research gives helps HR&S determine who the major gift prospects are and how much money HR&S can reasonably ask them for.

Major Gift Metrics

Justification for tracking

HR&S is measuring a whole host of metrics ranging from return on investment (ROI) to matching gift metrics as well as major gifts metrics.
Measuring major gifts metrics will helpsHR&S adjust course when something isn’t working like it should be.

What to Track

Some general metrics include:

  • The number of asks made.
  • The number of face-to-face visits over the course of time.
  • How much money HR&S raised with the help of major gifts.
  • The percentage of donors or prospects in each stage of the donor pipeline.


Major Gift Calculator

Importance of a Major Gift Calculator

Major gift calculators are essential to successful and strategic fundraising. They are most useful when HR&S has a specific goal in mind and needs to reach that goal in a specified timeframe.
A major gift calculator is used to determine how many donations HR&S needs at each giving level. Not every donor is able to give the same amount, and a major gift calculator can help HR&S to determine how many donations are needed to be secured and how HR&S can go about asking for those contributions. No fundraising methodology is perfect, but a major gift calculator can help HR&S to more accurately pinpoint where the institution needs to focus the fundraising efforts.

Begin with a fundraising goal as starting point. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume HR&S  needs to raise EUR 500,000.
Next, HR&S needs to estimate the largest gift the Insitution will be able to secure. This will likely be between 15% and 30% of the fundraising goal. We assume 20%, or $100,000 in this example.
Then, calculate the next highest gift amounts. The easiest way to do this is by halfing each consecutive gift level. So, in this example, the giving levels would be: EUR 50,000, EUR 25,000, EUR 12,500, EUR 6,250. Then, assign the number of donations that is needed for each giving level to reach the goal.
In this example, HR&S needs: 1 donation of EUR 100,000, 2 donations of EUR 50,000, 4 donations of EUR 25,000, 8 donations of EUR 12,500, and 16 donations of EUR 6,250. The idea is to bring in a few large donations and many smaller ones.



Major Gifts Officer & the team

Qualifications. In general, a major gifts officer should have the following qualifications; familiarity with fundraising, good communication skills, determination to solve problems, familiarity with HR&S non-profit programme or similar organizations.

Responsibilities. A major gifts officer spearheads all of the major giving initiatives at an organization and works closely with fundraisers and the prospect research team to determine major giving candidates. A major gifts officer will be responsible for soliciting some of the largest donations that HR&S receives. It is imperative, therefore, that the HR&S major gifts officer is comfortable and able to make those appeals and follow up with donors.



Major Gifts and Matching Gifts

Pairing Matching Gifts & Major Gifts

Combine major gifts and matching gifts by:
1. Encouraging major gift donors to look into corporate matching gifts. Even though most companies place limitations on their matching gift programmes, those caps are often generous amounts ranging from EUR 15,000 to EUR 50,000. HR&S can stand to potentially receive two major gifts when informing major gift donors know about mathing gifts.
2. Asking major gift donors to start a matching gift programme at their company.Many major gift donors either own their own businesses or serve in a leadership position at a corporation. If that company doesn’t already have a matching gift programme, HR&S  can encourage major gift donors to put one in place.


Major gifts and matching gifts are like the celebrity power couple of the fundraising world. They can also be tricky to pin down. When major gift donors are aware of matching gift programmes, HR&S may receieve two substantial donations. HR&S makes sure to be promoting matching gifts to all major gift donors.

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