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Defining what you consider a major gift

Just about everyone in the fundraising universe likes, or maybe loves, major gifts and is aware of the need to receive them. Despite that agreement, however, there can be disagreement about just what constitutes a major gift.

Speaking during the 2104 Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference, Christopher J. O’Connor of the South Shore Hospital (SSH) Charitable Foundation said the concept of major gift or major donor does not have a one-size-fits-all specimen. At SSH, for example, a major gift is a gift of $25,000 or more, either made outright or pledged. A principal or leadership gift is a gift of $500,000 or more.

O’Connor emphasized that depending on such factors as the age of a development program or demographics of the area in which is occurs, a major gift could range from anything between $5,000 and $100,000.

Just as important as knowing all this is discovering who can make a major gift. O’Connor said major gift donors can include the following:

  • Those who know the difference between income (salary) and wealth.
  • Those focused on building assets rather than increasing income (think portfolio over salary).
  • Holders of significant shares of stock;
  • Those with ownership or partnership in private business;
  • Family wealth holders; and,
  • Successful entrepreneurs.

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