Balancing your major gift pipeline


Yesterday I talked with a nonprofit CEO who told me that 70% of his organization’s major gift revenue came from local corporate partners. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment in his voice as he shared this with me.

These corporate partners are a big part of this nonprofit’s revenue. So, not surprisingly, this CEO was quite alarmed when I told him I thought his organization’s revenue strategy was in desperate need of a shift in focus.

In his mind, they were doing great. They’d held off declines in revenue from other sources and added more than a dozen corporate partners in the last year. This was cause for celebration!

And to be fair, I agree with his sentiment.

Sort of…

They had achieved great growth in corporate giving. It is progress they rightly should be proud of.

The challenge is, even though in real dollars corporate giving may look very strong, less than 20% of all philanthropic giving in the U.S. comes from companies.

It’s not that the CEO and his organization were doing something wrong. It’s just that they chose a revenue growth strategy that is very difficult to scale.

With 70%+ of all charitable giving in the nation coming from individual donors, it’s a mistake not to focus primarily on building relationships with individuals. The people who attend your events, who give to you through the mail and online, and those who volunteer and advocate for your cause.

While it might seem like a good idea to go after the big bucks in corporate America, the reality is that you’ll work much harder and longer to gain access to those dollars, and there are far fewer of them to be had.

Focusing on individual donor relationships will bring your organization greater philanthropic success more quickly, and it’s much more sustainable over time. It’s also a lot more enjoyable!

Check out this post for tips on kick starting a major gift program. Or this one that gives you some great tips on engaging major donors.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in balancing your major gift pipeline?


Photo by: renjith krishnan. Via

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