Often our best major gift prospects are hidden in plain sight. But how do you find them and prioritise your approaches?

major giftWhen it comes to major gift donors, my advice – always start closest to home. Take a look at your database, your organisation and your networks.


Dive into your database and take a look at those that are currently giving at a mid-range level. Talk to these donors. What are their passions, why do they give, what is the biggest gift they have ever given and what was it for?

Consider those that have regularly donated over many years and have more recently increased their giving. They may not be giving at major gift level but might be showing a growing interest and loyalty to your organisation. Perhaps these are your future bequestors, or they might bring together a group of friends to establish a giving circle, or maybe they are just waiting to be asked to make a bigger impact with a bigger gift.

Talk to your current major donors. Who do they  know and who are they willing to connect you to? Ask those that are closest to you to bring a friend to an event, introduce you to a peer to your campaign, or indeed ask your major donors to fundraise on your behalf.


Who is on your board, who do they know from other boards and employment, who can they connect you to, what doors can they open?

Often our boards are filled with influencers, authorities and experts who themselves may make loyal and generous donors but have not yet been asked and, more often than not, can connect you with others who have a passion for your cause and a willingness to give when asked by a friend, mentor or colleague.


You might deep dive into your database to look at the positions, employers, suburbs of your supporters, not all of whom will be donors. Is there a chance that you have a high-flying CEO, Chairperson of an ASX top 200 or a trustee of a PAF right under your nose?

Is there someone who can introduce you to new prospects?


Get out there and talk to people. Talk to your board, your donors, other fundraisers (in and out of your industry), your friends. Talk to everyone and anyone about giving and you will be amazed at the opportunities that abound.


Read, read, read. Read philanthropy journals, blogs, newspapers, attend conferences and speak to peers. Magazines like F&P can introduce you to a world of supporters and organisations who are doing amazing things – and remember donors are very rarely monogamous, so if they give to someone like you, they may well give to you too!


If you have the budget, consider undertaking a wealth screening of your database, there are a number of providers out there. In one organisation I have worked with, this highlighted a number of long-term, dedicated supporters who were centi-millionaires, and we didn’t even know it!

However you find them, current and prospective major gift donors are out there and waiting to be asked. So, take a look around today and check who you might have overlooked!

Teisha Archer is a fundraising coach and consultant specialising in major gifts and campaigns and Director of Teisha Archer Consulting. Click here to read more about Teisha. She is also a Foundation Member of The Xfactor Collective social impact practitioner community. To hear Teisha Archer speak more about major gift fundraising, click on the links in the article above or go the ‘THE XCHANGE’ – Australia’s first social changemaker video library.

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