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Want to Get More Major Gifts? Invest in Training

I was browsing through YouTube the other day and up pops a video featuring fundraising guru and geek, Dr. Adrian Sargeant.

Adrian is the Director of the Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at the University of Plymouth in England. The Centre is a fantastic advocate and resource for the whole fundraising world.

I love listening to Adrian because I always learn some amazing statistic. And in fact, I was amazed by something I learned from this video.

Adrian was being interviewed by Amy Eisenstein and together they had done a study on small nonprofits and major gifts.

The study examines the success of smaller organizations with major gifts and what factors allow that success to emerge. The whole study is a great resource, but the statistic that grabbed me was this:

In this study, for every form of training and development that small organizations included, there was a corresponding $37,000 increase in major gifts revenue.

More intense and personal training saw bigger increases, but even webinars produced a lift on average in revenue.

Hello!! Board members and executive directors – are you doing the math? Why wouldn’t you invest in your staff’s ability to do major gifts with this kind of data?

Training Builds Confidence

Major gift fundraising often feels like a secret sauce, but really most people figure it out as they go along. Hearing war stories and sharing successes make major gift fundraisers feel like they can do it – they are part of the tribe!

Fundraisers learn from each other

Listening to how other organizations approach major gifts can give fundraisers ideas about how they should set up systems, approach donors, and tailor language.

Investing in professional development inspires focus

If an organization invests time and organizational resources in major gift training, fundraisers are more likely to make the calls and ensure that they are doing the face-to-face work.

As the study indicates, even the smallest of efforts has a revenue pay off.  Start looking at your options. Here are a few ideas:

1 Webinars: There are a plethora of consultant and organizations that put on webinars about major gifts. These trainings are an easy, inexpensive way to connect with resources right from your desk!

2 AFP trainings: Look for the nearest Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter near you. Most will have major gifts training of some kind to offer. AFP also offers national conferences and the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) programs.

3 Planned Giving Roundtables: We have a great one here in Colorado, but these groups are all over the nation. Check yours out! They often offer topics that are critical to the work of major gift officers.

4 Blogs and Books: So many! Our favorite is Asking by Jerold Panas, but there are tons out there. In the next few months, we are coming out with our own Asking Workbook with hands-on, how-to content for major gift fundraisers. Stay tuned!

5 Mentors: Find someone in your community with major gifts experience. Our fundraising community is extremely generous in sharing the “secret sauce” to people willing to learn.

The bottom line: You can’t afford not to engage with all the great training resources out there.

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