You can be the greatest major gift officer and have donors who are passionate about your cause, but if you don’t have compelling, inspiring projects and programs to offer them, you will ultimately fail in your work.
Here’s the thing: major donors want their hearts to be broken and they want to give, but they also want to be specific in their giving, knowing that they made an impact. For some reason though, non-profit leaders have gotten it in their heads that major donors just don’t need this information.
It’s arrogant to think that somehow donors will support their cause because it’s just the right thing to do. These leaders believe that major donors should give to their organization just because they are doing “good things.”
Then they put pressure on MGOs to go out and get gifts for general operating support. It’s a recipe for disaster, in my opinion. And it doesn’t honor the donor. It’s an organization-focused mindset, not a donor-centered one.
When we at Veritus Group first started working with MGOs many years ago, we began by doing what we do best. We created a structure for major gifts by first making sure we had qualified donors, set goals for each donor and then created a strategic plan to obtain that goal. Then we kept them accountable to those goals.
But very quickly we encountered a massive problem. The MGOs were struggling because they didn’t have anything to “sell” to the donor. Most of the MGOs were out there trying to inspire donors to give to general operating funds, and while they were mildly successful, donors just didn’t give big gifts.
The MGOs’ overwhelming lament was, “I wish I had something to get my donors excited about. I have nothing. I don’t know what to do!”
Because Richard recognized this very early on, he developed what we call the Program Support Portfolio™. Basically it is a systematized way to take your entire budget and all of your projects and programs and come out with multiple inspiring, fundable projects with different “price points” to “sell” to your donors (click here to request a document fully describing the PSP).
It’s absolutely brilliant. Not because it’s so difficult of a process, but because almost every non-profit we work with is struggling with this – how to talk to their donors about what they do, and how to package it in a way that the donor can easily understand. Richard created this process so that it finally gives MGOs the tool they need to inspire their donors to give.
That’s the most important point here: YOU must have inspiring projects and programs that you can, with great passion, compel a donor to invest in. In fact, if you are out there trying to raise money without it, you will never see those large six- and seven-figure gifts your ED or board is hoping you will secure.
I often tell development professionals that what you ultimately need is a “virtual file folder” of different projects and programs with a multitude of “price points” that will meet the desires and passions of your entire caseload of donors.
Without that, your hands are tied behind your back.
There are many ways to go about trying to get that “virtual file folder” of projects, but it will take key leaders in your organization to get on board with it. Here are some thoughts:

  1. The ED and the head of finance have to be on board with the concept. It won’t work if leadership will not embrace breaking your budget down into fundable projects. You will always be swimming upstream.
  2. When figuring out the cost of a project, you HAVE to include overhead. All costs of a project have to be included.
  3. All projects and programs have to include different “price points” to meet the needs of different donors. One donor can either fund the whole project, or multiple donors can fund different parts of the project. Either way, you need to allow for many options.
  4. Project and programs have to be packaged to inspire the donor. You can’t bore a donor into giving. Remember, major donors give from their hearts just like other donors do.

The result will be that wonderful “virtual file folder” of programs and projects for you to take to donors. You’ll finally have the tool you need to compel your donors to give – and give big!
PS – Again, if you’d like to read more about the PSP, click here.