Why and how do you launch a major donor program? Well, let’s start with facts: Over the past four decades I’ve found that 5% of donors usually account for 90% of an organization’s fundraising results.
So, it’s pretty obvious – you need to pay attention to the 5% of donors that provide 90% of the organization’s funding! That’s not to say you ignore the other 95% of supporters, it’s just basic math. This is why you launch a major donor program.
Some organizations consider a major donor anyone that donates over $250 – while many universities consider major donors as anyone donating over $250,000. That’s quite a range….
Then there’s trying to figure out – is a major donor someone that gives a single gift above $1,000? What if they make monthly gifts of $83.34 (which is over $1,000 for the year) – do they count as a major donor too? I’ve usually gone with one-time gifts over a certain dollar amount – and stewarded monthly donors a different way (blog post coming on building a monthly donor program).
There are all sorts of algorithms to determine who is a major donor based on past giving, but absent having an outside fundraising firm run an RFM report (recency, frequency, and monetary value), you can do this in-house. A good starting point is to analyze your donor records and determine the largest gifts you’ve received over the past three years. If you don’t have good nonprofit or fundraising software, just use Excel and conduct a sort on gift amounts over the past three years. Then, dedupe the list, and you’ve got your top donors and donation amounts in order.
Use the sorted and deduped data to identify the top 20 to 30% of donors, then make a cut-off at the lowest amount for donors in the 20 to 30% range, and you’ve got your major donor amount.
There is really no wrong answer here – and you can always adjust the amount.
So, you’ve spent time on determining what donation amount qualifies someone as a major donor. Now, you must determine what does being a “major donor” mean? Namely:
- How does the organization treat a major donor?
- Is there more communication?
- Is there more one-od members in developing relationships with major donors?
- How will you keep major donors engaged in the organization’s work?
- Do you know what are tn-one communication?
- Do you involve boarhe key interests and motivational triggers of your major donors related to your organization?