Amy Eisenstein has answered the burning question so many smaller charities ask themselves when observing the best practices of larger organizations: “Can we run a successful major gifts effort when we’re so much smaller?”
Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops answers this question in four parts that begin with creating a culture conducive to giving and end with retention. Eisenstein takes her promise one step further by assuring readers they can run a major gifts program working five hours per week. Even doubtful readers’ concerns are put to rest when they find an addendum at the end of the book that helps them find the five hours per week.
Why Eisenstein felt compelled to write this book
Major Gifts author Amy Eisenstein began thinking about how to help smaller nonprofits enjoy the success of major gift fundraising in 2013 when she launched the Major Gifts Challenge. The Major Gifts Challenge was the title of a blog series she provided for her readers with the intent of sharing the entire process of identifying, researching, stewarding and asking prospects for major gifts.
Nonprofit professionals who had never considered major gifts started experimenting and discovering something Eisenstein learned many years ago: Major gift fundraising is far more efficient and takes far less time and effort than special events or writing and administering grants.
We asked Amy Eisenstein more about the Major Gift Challenge and what barrier she likes to focus on for small shops:
CausePlanet: Amy, thank you for tackling what we think many smaller nonprofits wonder: “Can we really run a major gifts program in our smaller nonprofit?” You talked about how the Major Gift Challenge prompted the book. What triggered you to launch the Challenge on your blog?
Eisenstein: I was concerned about small nonprofits being stuck on the hamster wheel of grant writing and event planning. I want to see all nonprofits raise significantly more money, and I believe it can only happen through a major gifts effort.
Sometimes the difficulty comes with just getting started, so I challenged (via the Major Gifts Challenge on my blog) organizations to get started by dedicating a few hours each week to raising major gifts.
CausePlanet: Can you share an example of one of your favorite small-shop strategies that involves a method to overcome the pinch of smaller resources?
Eisenstein: Half the battle is getting over the fear of raising major gifts and simply getting the confidence to get started. It’s about believing that you can raise major gifts at any organization–and I’ve seen some of the smallest organizations raise five- and even six-figure gifts. It’s also about committing the time to raise major gifts, which is always a real challenge in small shops.
With these stats, it’s hard to look the other way
At the time this book was published, 72 percent of all giving in the U.S. came from individuals, according to the National Philanthropy Trust. Three quarters of U.S. nonprofits have budgets less than $500,000, states the Independent Sector.
When you view these statistics along with the fact that fundraising is among the most important competencies a nonprofit can master, smaller charities should evaluate if major gift fundraising could be one of their possible strategies. Amy Eisenstein firmly believes most small shops can win at the major gifts game and has an impressive following of nonprofit professionals who have adopted her recommendations and succeeded.
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Image credits: nonprofithub.com, realitysisters.com, Amy Eisenstein