Posted , by Wendy McGrady, Executive Vice President. Topic: Major Gifts Programs.

I love New Year’s. I love New Year’s resolutions or really any reason to think fresh, set new goals and take stock of progress.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably made one too many New Year’s resolutions you didn’t keep. What are your goals for your development program next year? If you want to focus on major gifts, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. You can’t do the same thing and expect different results. If your development program is heavy on events, analyze the return on investment from those events—staff time, cost, etc. Is there something you can cut out or delegate so you can spend more time cultivating and soliciting major gifts? You might be able to replace the revenue of an event with one or two major gifts.

2. Do your homework on prospect research. Do you have mid-level donors who need individual cultivation in order to move to the next level? Do you have major gift donors who haven’t been stewarded in the past and are no longer giving? What needs to be done to move brand-new donors to ultimately make major gifts?

3. You can’t make this change alone. Successful major gift programs require your board’s engagement and focus, in addition to your staff’s. Increasing board involvement in fundraising will translate to increased results. You might need to start slow, but if you put the right foundation in place, it will pay off. Recruit new board members with major gift fundraising in mind. Make sure new board members are oriented, trained and well equipped for major gift fundraising. Meet with members individually to discuss their roles and goals in fundraising.

4. Regularly evaluate your progress. Engage your board in evaluating your progress specifically with major gifts. Keep fundraising on the agenda at every board meeting—talk about successes and challenges.

Like so many resolutions, building a major gift program takes time and requires effort and focus from board and staff. But, also like many resolutions, the payoff is big. I wish you all the best with your New Year’s resolutions and with your major gift program!

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