Major donations are usually the result of building and cultivating relationships with supporters. Securing major donations requires research, investment of time working with an individual and being able to successfully present a strong case for support. Often a donor will have a specific area of work that they’d like to support within the organisation, which can be driven by a personal experience, loss or interest. A major donation is often a process of negotiation, balancing the interest of the individual with the needs of the charitable organisation. However, a major donation can come forward through a targeted fundraising appeal.

  • Potential major donors can be identified through exploring your organisation’s networks, contacts, existing supporters and focussed appeals. Often a major donor will be someone who has given to the organisation before, but usually a smaller amount
  • It is helpful to define a process, and ideally a lead contact, within your organisation who can liaise with potential major donors
  • Whilst it’s important to be flexible when negotiating major gifts, it’s useful to be able to outline a range of engagement opportunities which individuals can consider, such as funding a particular piece of work, part of a capital build, sponsoring a beneficiary or new initiative
  • Some major donors may prefer to remain anonymous following their donation, whereas others will be happy for you to share news about their contributions or might like to have a more public acknowledgement. For instance, options could be explored for naming a room, building, item, initiative or project after the donor or a chosen name, to publicly acknowledge their support. It’s important that you have this discussion with the donor as part of your negotiations
  • Keep good records of your discussions with potential donors and avoid mistakes such as misspelling names or titles
  • Keep records of any donations given and ensure that the donor is personally thanked for their gift. Avoid sending standardised correspondence to major donors and try to offer a personalised approach, targeted to their area of interest or support.
  • Building and maintaining good communications and a strong relationship is vital with major donors, so it’s important that you keep in touch with them, providing news and updates on your work or project, invitations to events and impact reports - this may well reap rewards into the future.
  • Be aware not to keep asking for funds from the same donors, try to keep developing new relationships, remembering that if a relationship is successful and strong, an individual may well go on to give more in time if they are in a position to
  • Consider ways that a major donor could become more involved in your work. They may well be open to participating in an event or activity, volunteering or be involved in work to promote your cause, which is related to their area of interest. This can be a great way to build donor engagement

Helpful links

Chartered Institute of Fundraising - Major donor fundraising