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Is Major Gifts fundraising simple?

Good question – Is Major Gifts fundraising simple???

Our new online training course is called ‘Major Gifts Made Simple’.

I had originally intended to call it ‘Major Gifts Magic’ but felt that it might be confused with legendary fundraising trainer Rob Woods’ course ‘Major Gifts Mastery’.

I explained this to Rob this the other week, describing my desire to come up with a suitable (alliterative obviously!) name which didn’t cause cause confusion.

As we were chatting, I was thinking, in all honesty, a) It’s still not that different a name, I reckon people  might be confused and b), mic-drop…


Is Major Gifts fundraising simple?


I am currently helping a client to establish a major giving function within their fundraising team.  Working in the trenches, delivering this work directly, reminds me that Major Gift fundraising isn’t simple at all.

Rob agreed with me (and suggested I try to think of a different name for my course!)

I tend to agree.


Major Gift fundraising is inherently complex because done well, every single individual you’re working with must be looked after in a totally unique, carefully considered way.


Each person has their own desires and interests where their charitable giving is concerned, as well as other competing life priorities which should determine the level and timing of your asks.

This is before you throw into the mix:


  • The need to involve different people at different levels of your organisation (and the need to fully brief / prepare those who aren’t fundraisers, e.g. senior management, trustees)
  • The reactive nature of needing to respond to donor communications as and when they arise
  • The proactive need to push through barriers and blockers with those who are great prospects but who are, for whatever reason not responding to your attempts to reach out
  • Other streams of income you’re expected to work on at the same time
  • Other tasks which fall to you but are not even related to fundraising


Major gifts fundraisers need to be:


  • Perceptive and capable of subtle analysis
  • Problem solvers
  • Creative and entrepreneurial
  • Articulate and engaging, yet quiet, thoughtful listeners
  • Bold and confident in their ability to make connections with people from all walks of life


Good major gifts fundraisers are rare.  There is an art to doing it well.  It is an impressive thing to witness.


It’s easy therefore to look at a well-established, sophisticated major gifts operation and believe it to be anything but simple.  It often appears:


  • Unattainable
  • Complicated
  • Specialist
  • Not for us
  • Requiring of too many resources


I actually don’t agree that this is the case.

Compare the smartphone in your hand to the first mobile phone you ever owned (mine was a pale gold Vodafone handset – I thought it was the height of cool!).

My 1999 classic model enabled me to make calls and send text messages.

Check it out!

vodafone handset c. 1999

Just because my iPhone 8plus does this and SO much more.  It doesn’t take away the effectiveness of that first mobile device.

In fact, I would argue that my 1999 mobile was MORE impactful than anything I’ve had since, because moving from no mobile phone to having a mobile phone was life changing in a way that subsequent upgrades haven’t been.


It’s the same with major gift fundraising.

Starting with a basic model will still deliver results, just as a complicated machine developed and honed over many years will too.

Having a simple, small at first, major gifts programme will be life changing for your charity in the same way that having a mobile phone was for 16 year old Caroline.  Let’s be real here, it meant that BOYS no longer had to call my house to speak to me first (not that I was particularly popular aged 16).

So whilst Major Gifts fundraising isn’t always simple, it is most definitely accessible.

And I’m here to show you how.

I probably still need a better name for this course – suggestions on a postcard please 😊


major gifts made simple

Our new course Major Gifts Made Simple will be available in Summer 2021.

Click here for more information and to sign up to be the first to hear all about our next launch.


Posted in Fundraising, Major gift fundraising.