Are you ready to jump into a fundraising campaign without knowing where your lead gifts will come from and why they are important?
A lead gift is a gift or grant that represents a minimum of 10% to 20% of your fundraising goal. You need to know your goal to determine the size of a potential lead gift; and you need to know who has the capacity and interest to give a lead gift so you can strategically allocate your time and resources.
It can be easy to start fundraising by getting everyone involved and raising as much as you can. One problem with this method is that you can spend as much time pursuing a $500 gift as a $50,000 gift. Use your time as wisely as possible, by starting with lead gifts and building momentum. If a lead gift represents 10% to 20% of your fundraising goal, then you would need a gift of $25,000 to $50,000 for a $250,000 fundraising goal. If your goal is $8 million, your range could be from $800,000 to $1.6 million. Remember, you can look for several lead gifts. Here are two suggestions for finding them.
First look to those closest to your organization or institution. A lead gift could come from a member of your board, or one of their colleagues, family members, business partners, or friends. Talk about potential lead gifts as part of the board’s annual budgeting and fundraising planning. Also speak with board members individually to gain insights and suggestions they may not feel comfortable sharing at the group level. Look to your long-term donors and volunteers as well. They often share a common vision and believe in your mission and goals. One may want to make a large gift that can symbolize their legacy – or honor the legacy of someone they love or respect. Importantly, if you are using a campaign structure, you want your co-chairs to make the lead gift. That is part of their role as a campaign chair: to make a lead gift. Last but not least, look to an individual or a family that is grateful for the services and impact that your nonprofit has made on their lives: they may be honored to give back in this way.
Next, consider a local or national foundation whose mission and goals are in alignment with what your organization is proposing. Look also to local or state government for funding in areas where your organization’s work aligns with their goals, or where you can “solve” a problem that they cannot. Look also to individuals who may not have a history with your nonprofit, but whose goals and mission align with yours, as well as a corporation who may see partnering with your organization as a way to help them meet their community obligations and commitments.
Knowing who to ask for a lead gift means you, your board, and fundraising leadership know who to focus on cultivating and soliciting.
Copyright 2022 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2022! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727. www.saadandshaw.com.
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