Important considerations for establishing major gift metrics

By John T. Keith, J.D., consultant, Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates

Fundraising success is increasingly a vital component of an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.  Campaigns have increased in prevalence and frequency and often are dependent upon 90 percent of the dollars being contributed by 10 percent of the donors.  (In higher education, this can reach 95 percent of the dollars from 5 percent of the donors, a threshold nearly unheard of 15 years ago.)

This leads many organizations to rely upon major gift fundraising at all times, rather than merely for special projects of need.

At the same time, it has become more common for board members to have backgrounds in businesses that foster a sales culture and therefore look for data-driven accountability from the nonprofits they support.  How can we modernize our approach to goal-setting and accountability without sacrificing what makes philanthropy so different from sales transactions?

The art of fundraising focuses on fostering support for your mission by developing relationships with donors and aligning their philanthropic goals with organizational needs. Yet, in philanthropy it is important that we focus on both the art and science of fundraising by tracking the metrics behind those relationships.

Here are a few things to consider as you explore incorporating metrics into your major gift program.

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