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Major Gifts for Small Shops: The Major Gifts Challenge

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Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, has helped small and large nonprofits alike raise millions of dollars through major gift and capital campaigns, board development, annual fund campaigns, direct mail, and planned gift solicitation. She challenges small shops to raise large amounts of money in a small amount of time—a challenge she knows can be accomplished. Accept her challenge, and join her at the 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio to pick her brain about how YOUR small shop can really do this, and succeed. 

amy eisensteinWhat would you do if I told you that there was a way to raise significantly more money at your small shop this year?

I bet you'd be pretty excited. You'd start thinking about what that extra revenue would mean for your organization in terms of lives changed, meals served, diseases cured, students educated, animals rescued—you’d think about how much those funds would mean to your organization's mission.

Well, there is a way to increase your annual fund income. How? 

That’s exactly what I’m going to tell you if you attend either of my sessions at the upcoming AFP International Conference in San Antonio. 

Of course, I’ll give you a sneak preview here too, so keep reading… 

As I was saying: How can you significantly increase your annual fund income? 

By creating a major gifts program for your organization, of course!

I understand that the idea of adding a new project to your schedule may seem overwhelming. After all, most people in small fundraising shops are already overworked between grant writing, event planning and more.

However, once you get your major gifts program up and running, you'll actually be able to raise more money in less time and from far fewer donors.

Not only that, but you can achieve amazing results in only five hours a week.  That’s what the Major Gifts Challenge is all about!

Major Gifts Fundraising is Not Easy—But it is Simple.

It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to sit down for the first time with your first prospective major donor and walk away with a check for a major gift. Creating a successful major gift program and building relationships with your potential donors takes consistent effort. When I talk about five hours a week, I mean just that—five hours, every single week.

That said, I know from my almost twenty years of experience that major gifts fundraising is simple. During our time together I'll lead you through the essentials, but here are a few things you can start considering right now to get you ready for the workshop and to hit the ground running when you get back home. 

And, if you’re not able to join the fun in San Antonio, here’s some food for thought to get you started.

Why do you do what you do?

What did you dream of being when you grew up? If you're like me you knew you wanted to help people. And, if you're like me, you realize that raising money isn't about the money itself—it's about the things those funds make possible.

Sadly, though, our culture has made talking about money—and asking for money in particular—a difficult thing for most people to do. I believe that's one reason so many fundraisers stick to grant writing, direct mail and special events. After all, it's much less anxiety-inducing to ask in a letter, or ask a crowd of people, than it is to sit down with a single person and ask that person for a donation.

But when it comes to major gifts fundraising, that's exactly what you have to do: sit down with each prospective donor and ask that person for a four, five (or more!) figure gift.

Did your pulse quicken just a bit when you read that last sentence? If so, you're not alone. I honestly think that asking for money is right behind death and public speaking when it comes to the top things that most people fear most!

This is the reason that it's so important to remember why you do what you do. When you sit down to ask for that four-plus figure gift, remember that what you are actually doing is offering the donor a chance to make a difference in their community or in the world.

There are additional strategies for getting over the fear of asking for money, several of which I will address at the AFP conference. You can also find many in the Major Gifts Challenge portion of my blog as well as in my upcoming book, Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops. But whatever strategy you use to keep your pulse level during your ask meetings, it all comes back to remembering your “why.”

The nuts and bolts of major gifts.

Of course, your ‘why’ is just the beginning of your major gifts journey.

During the session I'll outline some of the other essentials of the major gifts process. For example, before you can ask for a major gift, you need to be able to identify just what constitutes a major gift for your organization. Because, depending on your donor pool and your organization, a major gift could be $1,000, $10,000 or even $100,000.

You also need to start thinking about who you'll be asking for those larger gifts. Is it existing donors from your donor database? Hopefully, yes. And if so, how do you find them? Or, do you need to identify new prospective donors from outside your current donor pool?

We'll also talk about timing—when should you start asking for major gifts? I’ll ask you to consider the following: When do you need the funds? Why now? When is your donor ready?  All are important issues to consider when thinking about timing.

And we'll talk a bit about how to ask. What language should you use? Do you have to ask for a specific amount?  (The answer is an emphatic, yes!) How do you decide how much to ask for?

Finally, how can you carve five hours out of your already-overworked schedule?

By the end of our time together you'll not only have the basics, but I'll also be issuing you a very special challenge. Will you take the Major Gifts Challenge to raise significantly more money this year for the organization you love?

Before we meet in San Antonio, I want you to ask yourself two very important questions:

1. What would your organization be able to do with significantly more revenue this year?

2. Is making those accomplishments possible worth five hours a week of your time?

If the answers to those questions excite you as much as they do me, I can't wait to meet you and help put you on the road to major gifts success!

If you can’t join me in San Antonio, I’ll be doing a webinar for AFP in May on the same topic.  I hope to see you soon!

You heard her—whether you’re joining her in-person at the 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising, or tuning in to her Webinar on May 7, you’re being challenged—will you accept? After all, it’s just a measly five hours a week. 

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