January 22, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
The Role of Major Gifts in Fundraising

This is another installment of an interview we had with Abbie von Schlegell from last year. Here, she talks about how major gifts have become a key component of fundraising.


Rachel: You’ve got annual gifts. You’ve got capital campaigns. Where do major gifts play a role in the spectrum of giving?

Abbie: Major gifts in fundraising are usually larger gifts, specifically for a project or even a building without going into a capital campaign. They’re usually from individuals, and it’s the way of philanthropy now. People make major gifts whether there’s a campaign, or an annual fund, or not.

Donors understand exactly what major gifts are, and you need to cultivate and engage a donor much extensively to encourage that person to make a major gift.

Rachel: How does an organization best manage internal communication so that these different folks are working as a team and not stepping on each other’s toes and complicating communication with potential donors.

Abbie: Unfortunately, what happens is that they’re not stepping on each other’s toes. It’s that they work in silos. That’s a major distinction in development offices and in institutions across the United States. Is that the ones who work collaboratively and as a team are the ones who are raising the most amounts of money and engaging the most number of volunteers, because that’s another piece that makes philanthropy very, very successful. And they’re engaging the donors.

Whereas the institutions that are operating in silos – they can be successful, but not as successful.


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