Transformation.Here’s a system you can use to increase the number of transformational gifts you are getting from your caseload donors.
But first, some context…
It is a fact that, buried in your caseload of donors, there are one or two people who can give a transformational gift to your organization. (Tweet it!)
The primary reason they haven’t done so is because you haven’t asked them to.
And the primary reason you haven’t asked them is because you (a) do not know their passions and interests, or (b) if you do know them, you have not successfully found a project or program in your organization that they will support.
This is why you need a system. Here is what we suggest – and this has been field-tested and resulted in transformational gifts as small as $600,000 and as large as $40 million.

  1. Produce an Excel document that lists all the passions and interests of every donor on your caseload. This list will repeat passions and interests, and that is fine. You want to see how many times one passion and interest is repeated so you can understand which ones are more frequent.
  2. Highlight those donors who have the capacity and interest to give transformationally. Place a subjective goal of a transformational gift next to that donor’s name.
  3. Sit with a decision-maker in your program delivery staff, and show them the list so that they can identify projects and categories that match the interests and passions, and goal amounts, listed on the document you created in the steps above.

Now, this may sound ridiculously simple and, if you don’t watch it, this simplicity may cause you to just ignore the idea. But hold on…
One of the biggest blocks to securing transformational gifts is the lack of alignment between major gifts fundraising and program delivery. The MGO has a donor who could give really big, and program has the need for funds that are really big. But the two parties do not talk to each other.
This system forces you to talk, explore, dream and plan for truly large gifts.
A good program person will look at your list and say: “You know, if we combine this program with that program and add in X, I think we can make this work. In fact, let me have a meeting with the CEO to talk about how this might happen.” And you have begun collaborating on a whole different level.
It is so interesting how this process, in the hands of people who can flex and dream, will release positivity and possibility in ways that you have not experienced before. Try it.
And don’t forget about the funds that donors have put into Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). The National Philanthropic Trust reports that $88 billion was sitting in those funds at the end of 2016. You and I know that number has grown substantially by now.
Here’s why I mention DAFs: the donors are waiting for someone to come up with a bold, visionary program or initiative they can support. You can do that by working with your program people to come up with what they need. Please start working on that, and watch those transformational gifts come in!
PS – For more on this process of finding and packaging programs for donors to fund, download our free White Paper, “Packaging Program into Donor Offers.”