How to Measure Your Success with Major Gifts Fundraising

Crossing the finish lineAt the end of each year, it’s important to reflect on how you did in asking for major gifts, measure your results, and review what could be done better or differently during the next year.

And, don’t forget to celebrate any success you had!

Did you receive your first ever major gift this year? If so, it’s time for a celebration! That could mean an office pizza party or an evening out with friends, but remember to acknowledge and rejoice in your success.

Measuring Your Major Gifts Success

As each year draws to a close, it’s time to ask yourself: did you follow through on your commitment to do the Major Gifts Challenge? How far along did you get?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Did you identify what a major gift is at your organization?
  2. Did you create a list of prospective major gift donors?
  3. Did you strengthen the relationship between those individual on your list and your organization? In other words, did you cultivate them by meeting with them, inviting them to your events, and getting to know them better?
  4. Did you ask the people on your list for a major gift?
  5. Did you follow up appropriately after the ask by creating a stewardship plan to thank your donors and let them know how their gift was used?

If you answered “no” to any of the above, where did you get stuck? And, why?

If you’re ready to make the ask, but haven’t had the courage or made the time, what’s stopping you?

It’s time to tally up the good with the bad. Judge yourself, not only on dollars raised (although that’s certainly an important measure), but also on meetings with donors, gifts for which you’ve asked, relationships strengthened, etc.

Action Item of the Week — 2 hours or less

It’s not too late. There’s still time to raise major gifts this year. Pick up the phone — call your two best prospects, and ask for a meeting in the coming weeks. After that, call two more.

Crossing the Finish Line of the Major Gifts Challenge

The major gifts challenge is officially over, and I’d love to hear your feedback.

Did it help you raise major gifts? If not, why not? Do you need additional information or support?

Help me understand where you got stuck and I’ll be able to help you even more in the months and years ahead. Together, we will raise the biggest gifts you’ve ever raised!

This is the final post in Amy’s Major Gifts Challenge. Read the entire series to learn how to get major gifts by spending just two hours each week.


  1. Pamela Brannon says

    Thank you for your emails and encouragement in the Major Gifts challenge.

    I had 3 great successes this year – each donor giving $10,000 each. Two of them I was able to meet with in person and one was done solely through the mail and phone as she lives 2,000 miles away.

  2. ezra says


    thanks again for running this challenge. For me the biggest challenge is getting a meeting. We have donors across the country so I spend lots of time on the phone for those out of NY,NJ,CT and am flying out to California in 3 weeks. My bigger donors $7,000+ have all made their gifts already this year before the challenge. I have one prospect who made a 1 million gift and 500k CGA in the last year, I spent a lot of face time and phone, letters etc with him. When I asked him if I could discuss a dedication in memory of his wife (he is 90 and doesnt have any children) 2 weeks ago he said yes. I showed him artist plans for a new educational wing on our campus and he offered to give me his stamp collection (worth a few thousand but not the $1 million gift I was hoping for). Will stay in touch with him and hopefully next year.

    Major gifts take time, cant give up or get discouraged. This must be the focus.


    • says

      Hi Ezra,

      Sounds like you’re on the right track. Congratulations.

      Don’t assume your big donors won’t give more this year, simply because they’ve already given (unless they gave recently – in the last month or two). If they gave 6 or more months ago, you may want to go back to them to discuss their support and ask if they would consider a major gift (be specific about the amount you have in mind). If they say yes, then they might want to make it this year for tax purposes. If they say they’ve already given this year, that’s fine too. It’s never too early to start asking for next year.

      As for your major, elderly donor… he may think he already made his major gift last year, and doesn’t have any intention of doing it again. Do you have any sense of that? Also, it’s really important, especially with older donors, that you are very careful to make certain that there are no dementia issues. When discussing a major gift with a person of this age, you may want to include his children, who could come back and sue you, if they think their father is unfit to make financial decisions at this point. Proceed with extreme caution.

      Keep at it. And, get to your other major donors earlier next year, so you don’t have the issue of them already having made a gift by the time you get to them.

      Good luck!

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