What do you need to maintain a healthy major gift fundraising portfolio? Nuanced strategies, honed tactics, engagement plans, referrals from a variety of organizational stakeholders, and more all help a fundraising portfolio to flourish.

One important factor is a healthy pipeline of potential donors flowing into your portfolio—and one of the best sources of potential major gift donors is those donors who are already giving to your organization. Annual giving programs are vital, not only because they fund important projects and programs, but because they give everyone who is committed to the organization the opportunity to engage. Consider the Priority Grid:


Individuals who are highly committed but have low capacity are likely to make gifts to the Annual Fund while their financial resources are still growing. What can be done to ensure these individuals are continually engaged and, if appropriate, eventually channeled into a major gift portfolio? Here are three ways to turn an annual giver into a major donor:

  1. Create meaningful return on their previous investments

No matter how much they give, all donors want to see a return on the contribution they made. The primary motivators for meaningful philanthropy are to make a difference for others and to be engaged with respected people doing important work. To encourage a donor to the annual fund to make a major contribution, demonstrate that past contributions have been impactful. Make an effort to genuinely thank all annual gift donors—and especially those whom you hope will eventually become major donors. Use a gift as an opportunity to connect, express thanks, and offer more engagement.

2. Discover passions that match your organization’s projects/programs

Meaningful philanthropy tends to be THROUGH the organization, rather than TO the organization. While loyalty often inspires annual donors to give, the motivations of major gift donors tend to be more complex. To help an annual giver with high financial capacity become a major donor, start with a conversation. If you can identify passions that align with your organization’s vision, you can create an opportunity for meaningful philanthropic engagement.

3. Inspire greater commitment with a compelling Opportunity Story

As organizational leaders plan a vision for the future, help them craft their funding priorities in a way that inspires donors. Those who give annually already are likely to give more if they perceive that the opportunity to make a difference is greater. Sharing meaningful stories of impact, explaining what is needed to make a change, and anticipating and answering donor questions are all keys to sharing a vision that inspires philanthropic support.


To view tools, videos, and other resources that assist in managing your portfolio and crafting donor engagement strategies, sign up for Advancement Resources’ virtual platform, myAR.

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