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Leadership giving: Transition annual-giving donors into major gifts

CCAeLearning webinar, February 15, 2018

Jason Demers

Leadership giving is a donor category that can serve as a springboard from higher-level annual giving into major gifts. According to Jason Demers, any school size or type can benefit from a focus on leadership giving, designed to increase donor engagement, plus size / number of gifts, while building the capacity of fundraising staff.

What is leadership giving?

  1. Jason defines leadership giving (LG) as the upper end of annual gifts: $500 - $2,500, usually undesignated.
  2. How LG differs from major gifts (MG):
    • Shorter timelines and fewer moves from LG prospect to gift than with MG.
    • LG prospects show commitment to your school through consecutive years of annual giving and larger than average gifts.
    • Some are lapsed MG donors who need re-engagement.
    • Transitional or newly discovered prospects can be potential leadership givers.

Advantages of an LG program

  1. Give upper-end annual donors a more personalized experience.
  2. Identify a pool of potential MG donors while increasing annual giving totals.
  3. Increase donor retention.
  4. Provide staff with experiences that help them transition from AG into MG fundraising.

Define success for your LG program

  • Increase average size of annual gifts.
  • Increase AG retention rate (should be 75%+; highest retention level among annual donors).
  • # of donors recategorized from AG into LG.
  • # of upgrades from LG into MG over a given time period.
  • Success rate = retention of LG donors, transition to MG donors + additional funds raised.

Steward your leadership donors

  • Create a specific recognition group for LG donors to reward loyalty.
  • Provide unique branding and benefits - ancillary services such as passes to the gym, campus theatre and sports events.
  • Meet face to face with each LG donor at least once per year and express interest in their points of view.
  • Thank them personally (hand-written cards).
  • Organize an annual get-together that includes both LG and MG donors, and invite LG to MG events.

Watch the full webinar