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Major giving has become an increasingly important topic for many nonprofits struggling to overcome the economic setback from the past few years. Some have always relied on gifts from major donors to achieve their goals, but they’ve struggled to get their major giving program back on track after the Recession. Others are looking at their major giving program for the first time because mid-level donations have declined.

Whether your nonprofit has relied on the contributions of major donors from the beginning, or you’re starting to focus on this new donor pool out of necessity, taking the time to understand what a typical major donor looks like is critical for major giving success.

 What does today’s “typical” major donor look like?

The body of knowledge about this topic is vast, but here are a few rules of thumb…

  • Mid-career donors with the potential to become major donors are typically income earners in the mid-six-figure range or higher.
  • Late Career donors can be evaluated more in terms of their accumulated assets. Such donors must possess income-producing assets of more than $2 million. This threshold can be adjusted up or down depending on the age of the donor.
  •  Retired donors, with many of life’s major expenses behind them, may be willing major gift prospects with lesser overall wealth.

As you look to identify your next potential major donor, it’s important to remember that these are VERY general rules of thumb and should be viewed as just a starting point. Donor information beyond one’s financial capacity tells the real story.

 Once you’ve identified them…what’s next?

Identifying your potential major donors based on wealth is the first step. Once financial capacity has been identified, donor interest or affinity must be determined. One of the worst things you can do is start reaching out to these potential donors without any sort of accountability system in place.

Have you taken the time to identify these three potential major donor pools? What are you doing now to cultivate those relationships?