Major Gift fundraising refers to large donations that come from individuals in response to personalized solicitations.
How important are major gifts? Roughly 80% of all giving to charity (churches included), comes from individuals. Of this 80%, another 80-90% comes from the top 20% of donors. So this is hugely important.
Major gifts look different depending on your perspective. At a small rural parish, a gift of $5-15,000 might be considered a major gift. At a major university, major gifts might start a $25,000 and go up to $1 million or more. The primary feature that lumps these gifts all together is the fact that a person was personally asked to give a substantial gift to a mission or ministry.
Major gift fundraising is about the person to person request for funding. If you have professional development staff at your parish, their success depends on asking the right person for the right amount of money at the right time. That means it is all about building relationships.
You don’t have to be a professional fundraiser to start receiving major gifts. It can be a very natural and organic part of your building relationships with the people in your parish.
I think that many pastors shy away from this kind of fundraising because they don’t feel comfortable making this kind of request. Be encouraged. The number one reason that people don’t give is because they are never asked. Many of your parishioners will be happy to support the efforts of your parish, you just need a systematic and organized approach to getting them involved.