I just finished reading several blogs and reflections from AFP-ICON, which just wrapped up in New Orleans, and it sounds like people are extremely nervous! Why? Because a recent report by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows that for the first time since 2013, there’s been a drop in donated revenue, including a drop in major gift revenue!

This is significant because while donors and donations have fallen from lower-level donors for years, overall giving has been boosted by more major donors giving larger gifts. In other words, revenue from major donors has masked the lower giving behavior of smaller donors.

Except for now.

Yep, for the first time in a decade, major donors have given less in 2022 than they did the previous year. Obviously, everyone is saying it’s because of the “Covid bump” from 2020, and 2021 and 2022 just couldn’t keep up.

That, for sure, is why lower-dollar donors and “covid-acquired” donors are not renewing gifts and are giving less, but why is major gift revenue down?

In the report, donors giving $500-$5,000 are down 3.9% in 2022 vs. 2021, donors giving $5K-50K are down 3.6%, and donors giving $50K and above are down 4.6% from 2022 to 2021.

Why this is so bewildering to me is that Veritus just finished wrapping up our own report of our clients and in aggregate, representing 27 of our clients, they were up 22% in revenue from 2022 compared to 2021!

So why do you think we’re seeing our clients grow their revenue, when overall major gift revenue around the country is down?

I’ll tell you.

It’s because our clients had a structure to their major gift program that allowed them to deepen their relationships with their donors. There was a revenue goal attached to every qualified donor in a major gift officer’s portfolio. There was a strategic plan attached to that donor. The portfolio was tiered so that the MGO was focused on the right donors. And, most importantly, we met with every MGO, regularly, to ensure they remained focused and were held accountable to executing their strategic plan.

By doing this, it created the freedom for MGOs to develop real relationships with their donors. They had the time to find out their donors’ passions and interests and were able to match them with all the programs and projects the organization had that helped change the world.

And here’s the kicker… this wasn’t achieved by some wild new strategy, or adding a ton of high wealth capacity donors to their portfolios, or purchasing a new software system. This was achieved through the hard, arduous, daily work it takes to cultivate, steward, and solicit donors.

If you want to buck the national trends, this is what it takes to do that. Now, are you and your organization willing to do that hard work? The hard work that allows you to build authentic relationships with your donors?

If you are, let us know. We’d be happy to help you change the tide and start seeing a transformation in your major gifts program. (You can start that process by scheduling an introductory call with my colleague Amy Chapman here.)