Reason #2–Why most Major Gift Programs Suck!

Reason #2—Non-Profits do not treat their donors as partners, but as sources of cash.

My last post was mainly about how non-profits generally do not evaluate their major gift programs using the right metrics—namely attrition rates.

Well, now I want to start talking about why attrition rates are so high with major gift programs.

There is a LOT of talk in the non-profit sector about partnership with donors.  But in my experience it’s mostly TALK.  Usually when I present to non-profits and I’m in front of their board and executive leadership team I see a lot of nodding heads when I talk about partnership with donors.

“Oh yes,” they say, “We really do value our donors and see them as partners, that’s not a problem with us.”  Then I ask them some questions:

  1. Do you know what [specific donor] is passionate about and why they give to you?
  2. When was the last time you invited one of your major donors to participate in one of your planning sessions?
  3. Do you know the significant dates in your donor’s life?
  4. Do you know their business?
  5. Do you know their hobbies?
  6. When was the last time you talked to one of your major donors at length that had nothing to do with asking for a gift?
  7. When was the last time you surprised a donor and did something nice for them?
  8. When was the last time you reported on a specific project they funded and had the project leader contact them to give them an update?
  9. When was the last time you saw an article about one of your donors and commented on it to them?

These are the kind of questions I ask.  The answers are usually disappointing…and the heads start to hang low.

I’m now going to say something completely radical.  HALF of the time and energy  your non-profit spends should be about nurturing and cultivating your donors.

“But, there is no way we could do that, we have a mission to carry out,” you say. And my response is that half your mission should be about your donors.  If you could pull that off, the other half of your mission would flourish.  Trust me.


About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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One Response to Reason #2–Why most Major Gift Programs Suck!

  1. Phyllis bard says:


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