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A meeting to discuss major gift ask for fundraising

Successful Major Gift Asks

Your organization’s process for soliciting major gifts during the height of the pandemic may have been limited or looked a bit different in terms of how you asked for funds. What normally may have been an in-person meeting was replaced by a virtual call or appeal letter. As people are becoming more comfortable in social settings again, it is time to revisit how your organization is approaching major gift asks.

Asking for a Transformational Gift

A meeting to discuss major gift ask for fundraising

In terms of value, each nonprofit may have a different definition of a major gift. Some small nonprofit organization

s may consider a major gift anything $1,000 or greater. Larger organizations may have a threshold of $25,000 or more. No matter where your organization sets its donation level, these contributions are transformational for your organization and should be cultivated, solicited and stewarded with respect.

If someone were to ask you to make a transformational gift to their organization, how would you want to be approached? Would you favorably respond to a donation request if the solicitation was made over the phone? Would you reply to a direct appeal letter by placing a sizable gift in the enclosed return envelope? Most likely, a donor is not going to respond to a letter with a major contribution. A conversation over the telephone seems a bit impersonal when asking a donor to support your organization with a significant contribution.

People Give to People

People give to people, not organizations or causes. In the major gift realm, people give to people they know, trust and with whom they have personal relationships. And you certainly cannot develop this rapport through letters, email, over the phone or a virtual visit. Now that the comfort level with in-person meetings is returning, major gift asks need to occur face-to-face.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for making a major gift ask:

  1. Do your research. What is the prospect’s interest in and history with your organization?
  2. Contact the prospect by phone. Ask if they are willing to meet you in person to share updates about your organization.
  3. Practice your presentation about your organization’s updates and needs and how you may approach the prospect for a major gift.
  4. Be prepared to respond to questions on your needs or the impact their gift will have on your organization.
  5. How will you follow up with the prospect? How will you thank them for their time and hopefully a potential donation?

AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising can provide training for you, your staff, board and/or fundraising committee on how to make major gift asks. Contact Jennifer Rubel, Director of Fundraising at, to learn more about our fundraising trainings.

Written by:

Melissa provides fundraising counsel for AMPERAGE’s nonprofit clients, leading feasibility studies and providing solutions that drive successful fundraising campaign results. A Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she uses her experience and extensive skill set to continually advance her fundraising practices and develop campaign-specific strategies, materials and training to help clients reach their campaign goals and advance their mission. Melissa has vast experience working in the nonprofit sector, having served in development and leadership roles with Sisters of Mercy and the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, she has served as a volunteer and board member with local nonprofits, such as the Catherine McAuley Center. Faith-based organizations and causes are of particular interest to Melissa. Melissa moves the needle by always looking for new opportunities and ways to improve professionally. She is currently president of the Eastern Iowa Planned Giving Council and a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Eastern Iowa Chapter. Melissa holds a Master of Strategic Leadership degree from Mount Mercy University. This busy professional, wife and mother enjoys sports and live music in her free time. A fan of Cubs baseball and Iowa Hawkeye football, Melissa and family enjoy football tailgating, where she’s known for her breakfast burritos. She enjoys the local band scene but says a Foo Fighters concert is her all-time favorite.