Major Donor Fundraising: 5 Effective Strategies for Nonprofits

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Major Donor Fundraising: 5 Effective Strategies for Nonprofits

The nonprofit landscape is synonymous with resilience and constant growth. Fundraising for nonprofits has gone through major changes. The past two years have brought many challenges and lessons as a result of the pandemic such as the Great Resignation, a recent trend that shows the highest resignations in tech and healthcare industries. Even so, many nonprofit organizations managed to thrive through these difficult times. Reflecting a 5.1% increase in charitable giving from 2019, Americans gave $471.44 billion in 2020

What are the factors that led to this increase? Nonprofit organizations really worked on their fundraising strategies – from communication and virtual events/auctions to making use of methods such as mobile giving and embracing the power of online donations. With that being said, it is important to note that there is always room for improvement. 

There are different kinds of donors when it comes to nonprofit fundraising. All sections of donors are equally important and should be equally cherished, and engaging your donors should always be among your top priorities. 

Major donors, in simple words, are the individuals that give the most money to a nonprofit organization. Major donor fundraising is a program with its main focus on these high value or major donors. Today, it is crucial to focus on improving your nonprofit’s strategy by retaining your existing major donors and gaining new major donors. This can be accomplished through serving your community better, building a stronger team, and elevating your organization to new heights. 

1. Conduct Prospect Research

Prospect research is when donors are screened to determine their likelihood of becoming a potential major donor. Prospect research is a must when it comes to fundraising for nonprofits since it tracks their giving records. Factors such as charitable or political giving and wealth status are usually taken into consideration. Once that is done, the next step is to communicate and reach out to prospects. 

2. Get Your Board Members On Board

As an organization looking to serve others around you, it is very important that you understand the role of your board members and other members in the office. Board members are nothing short of brand ambassadors for a nonprofit. As long as your mission is well portrayed through them, you can request your board members to tap into their circles that may consist of potential major donors. Take it as your responsibility to build the process. 

  • Make sure that the LinkedIn profiles of all your board members are well updated. Get them to share posts about your mission and campaigns. This should include both success stories of past campaigns, stories around ongoing campaigns, and testimonials from people who have received aid. 
  • After identifying potential major donors from the connections of your board members, draft a message asking for donations while talking about the mission. This can also be done over email. 
  • Thank your board. Since an introduction from a trusted ally is worth a lot, remember to appreciate your board members for their time and help. 

3. Redefine Volunteerism

Volunteers are very important to a nonprofit organization and leveraging your volunteers is essential to your nonprofit’s growth. Invite your major donors to get involved and volunteer for your organization. Let them know how this can be beneficial to them in a number of ways: 

  • Major donors will get to learn more about your nonprofit, its work, mission, and goals.
  • Meetings between your major staff members and major donors can result in an in-depth understanding of the huge impact their funding can create.
  • Deeper bond between your major donors and your organization. 

4. Offer a Membership Clubs

The point of membership clubs is to boost your mission by setting different levels of membership and keeping the topmost tier reserved, offering exclusive opportunities. For nonprofits, the top-tier members would be major donors. You can get started by offering an opportunity to have access to different events in exchange for an annual membership fee. This can act as a hook, and it can help you to skip the part where you need to make an ask. It can be an easy way to make the entire process look and feel spontaneous. 

5.  Create a Recognition Wall

Creating a space that honors your donors is one way to make them feel appreciated, and it is also a great way to let your donors realize the kind of impact that they are making. Permanently acknowledging your donors at various levels of contribution will show how much you value their  involvement and donations. It is also a part of your organization’s branding, and it will help you expand your mission. All in all, a recognition wall is an ideal way to cultivate bonds that last. You can even opt for digital displays to make the wall look more in sync with today’s technology. 

Here are some additional ways to steward your major donors:

  • Organize an in-person or virtual get-together to talk about non-fundraising topics as well. 
  • Send over project and impact reports to keep the transparency.
  • Host an intimate major donors dinner party.
  • Offer to take your major donors on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour!

Retaining, gaining, or nurturing major donors can be a time-consuming process. It is advisable to be patient and let the process run its course. While there will be times when a major donor will contribute immediately, some following donations may take time. Do not stop showing how much you value your donors, regardless of the situation. 


It is time to take all the lessons learned, polish them, and put them into practice. Showcasing the attitude of gratitude to your donors is a must. Take time to read up on different ways to thank your donors, whether big or small. The future is unpredictable, therefore it is essential for nonprofits to bank on their most important existing relationships. Make sure that you level up your fundraising for nonprofits. Tough times don’t last forever but true supporters are there to stay!

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