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Why Do Major Gift Givers Give Major Gifts?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Feb 12, 2015 8:30:00 AM

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Major Gifts

Editorial note: that might be my favorite headline I've ever written.

The science of giving can be pretty fascinating. It's part consumer science, part psychological study, and part economics. So why do major gift givers give major gifts?

It can pretty much be summed up in one word: feelings.

While the reasons people give are varied, it's also very well-researched. We can take these research insights and translate them into actionable steps to improve the efficiancy of donor drives. By keeping these factors in mind, skilled major gift officers can tailor their asks and maximize their efforts.

If anyone knows why givers give, it's Rob Cummings, a seasoned development leader and author of "The Weekend Briefing."

"Again and again, we see evidence that major gifts follow a time-honored recipe," Rob says, "The donor has the capacity to make the size of a gift that you seek.  There is a long and personal relationship with the organization.  That donor feels it is 'us,' not 'you.'"

"The request is not to support 'the campaign' but to a very specific project that is emotionally compelling to the donor.  And last, the request (actually more a conversation) was put forth by someone the donor knows and trusts.  I've rarely seen a major gift that strays from this recipe of success."

The importance of this emotional connection is backed by donor research. Individuals are more likely to give to causes they feel a personal connection to, especially one that affected a friend, family member, or loved one.

Check out the SlideShare below to see what else the research shows us about why givers give.

What has been an effective method of soliciting major gifts at your organization? Let us know in the comments!
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Image credit: Flickr user Paul Roth, CC BY-SA 2.0

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