The potential for large gifts is huge in almost all types and sizes of organisation. But too often, the program is never allowed to reach it’s full potential. Here’s why.
Lack of institutional readiness
The problem is that in an estimated eight out of ten cases, internal people and obstacles prevent success. Just recently we heard from a major gift officer from a medium-sized organization, who said, “Until recently our work was defined as work only when we were in the office.”
Professionals know: Success in major gift fundraising is closely linked to being on the road to donors, sitting next to them, talking and — most importantly — listening to them. The attitude of the boss above? A clear indication of lack of institutional readiness. Here, a key person is not at all on line with major gift fundraising. You might think that someone (in fact, her boss) is actually trying to prevent big gifts.
Institutional readiness for major gift fundraising involves the complex interaction of a variety of different components of content, structure and personnel.
Complexity of institutional readiness
Many things need to align in order for an organisation to start and sustain institutional readiness for major gift fundraising. Among them:
- A convincing and motivating case for support
- Realistic funding projects and plausible financial requirements
- Potential major donors — that is to say, people who might be willing to contribute a large gift
- Committed leaders within the organization, as well as honorary external leaders
- Structural and personnel requirements
Simple solutions exist…
Unfortunately, not. It is a complex, long-term and multifaceted process to condition an organization, its structures and people for successful major gift fundraising. It requires a conscious handling of internal hurdles and challenges, a long breath, and the consequent confrontation with cracking points. In some cases, external consultants seem to be able to prepare the ground, because it is often (unfortunately) that the prophets are not heard in their own country.
Playfully and jointly uncover knack points
Do you want to uncover some of the major indications that your organisation is missing the institutional readiness needed for major gifts success in a playful way? Use our Major Giving Bullshit Bingo card! As soon as one player recognizes and ticks three statements about major gift fundraising within your organisation, he or she has won. (But maybe the organisation is losing — lots of potential income from major gifts.)
Have fun with the game, but remember that the real fun (aka: work) begins when it comes time to start fixing things so no one can win at this game in the future!
Get in touch, and let me know how it goes. What are your organisations obstacles to major gift fundraising? What’s holding you back?
Editor’s note: You can catch Jan in action at #IFC2017, happening 17-20 October in the Netherlands. He’ll be presenting a masterclass on “The essentials of major donor fundraising” and a really cool special session in the Resource Cafe called “Improbrain: Move your body, move your brain, boost your creativity!” There’s still time to register!