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By Susan Orr
Major gift fundraising is a topic that every nonprofit should explore as an integral part of its fundraising strategy.
Whether you define a major gift as $500 or $5,000,000, the concepts are the same.
As Kay Sprinkel Grace explains in her book, Beyond Fund Raising, the principal attributes we need to understand and develop are the three C’s: Connection, Concern and Capacity.
We all may have generalized concerns about the state of the world, but most people recognize we cannot do everything for everybody.
Most of us have some areas that speak to our values more deeply than others.
You should be recording the source and depth of this concern for each major prospect, as evidenced by gifts to other organizations, volunteer work, professional associations and personal experience.
For the best outcome, your approach must understand and address the prospect’s values and motivations.
It is also crucial to understand what, if any, connection a prospect has to your organization.
Have they been a donor in the past?
Have they or a member of their family used your services?
Have they attended any events that you have held?
Do they have close friends who are on your board or otherwise closely linked to your organization?
This is the least important of the three C’s, for without concern and connection, no amount of capacity is going to motivate a major gift for your organization.
However, that does not mean capacity should be ignored.
The knowledge you can collect about your prospects’ wealth can determine where you should spend your limited time in building the all-important connections.
It is also critical for deciding what level of giving you might reasonably expect, assuming all the other important groundwork has been laid. Systems such as WealthEngine can help provide this information.
Your organization should keep all of the information about the three C’s together, in a central repository, not scattered across multiple databases. When viewed together, this provides a powerful picture of each prospect and facilitates the development of an individualized strategy for success.