Study: You Need Goals To Get Big Gifts

Organizations that met their major gift fundraising targets were more likely to have a goal, include major gifts within their strategic plan, and were satisfied with their pipeline of prospects and the time to develop them.

The 2020 Major Gifts Benchmarks Study was funded by Marketsmart, with research conducted by Melissa S. Brown & Associates, LLC, in collaboration with DonorSearch, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC).

The 28-page report breaks down responses from 580 organizations across a variety of categories. Study participants most often said that their organization defines a “major gift” when it falls in the range of $1,000 to $2,999. The median falls in the $5,000 to $9,999 range.

Some 43 percent of organizations reported meeting their major gift fundraising goal. But 60 percent of organizations that invest in major gifts and include that investment in their strategic plan met their major gift fundraising goal.

Only about one-third (34 percent) of organizations reported being satisfied with their pipeline of major gift prospects while almost half (49 percent) were dissatisfied with their current pipeline.

Other factors that appeared to lead to reaching fundraising goals was assigning a manageable number of major gifts prospects to any one person’s portfolio. Organizations raising less than $3 million that had a portfolio of less than 50 major gift prospects were far more likely than those with large portfolios to meet major gift fundraising goals. Organizations with three or more individuals engaged in cultivation were more likely to meet their goal.

Among the 30 percent of organizations that could report how long it took from identifying a prospect to closing a major gift, almost half (48 percent) said the process took one to two years.

Three-quarters of respondents had roles that typically involve major gift responsibilities, such as CEO or executive director, major gift officer, chief development officer, vice president or director of development and planned gift officer. The survey also reached prospect researchers, directors of operations for advancement, and people responsible for managing data within a nonprofit. Organizations included in the study raised anywhere from less than $250,000 to $75 million or more per year in the United States and some in Canada.

To access the full report, click here.