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Major Gift Fundraising Tenets: A Guide to Fostering Democracy

Updated: Apr 27


In fundraising and in life what really matters are relationships. Nurturing relationships is our stock and trade. With the start of a new year, we all pledge to strengthen relationships with our existing, lapsed and potential donors. As the inauguration of President Biden takes place, the reality of the past year, most especially the past two weeks, have made it impossible to ignore the hard reality of who we are as Americans and the depth of our division. My son, John and I were discussing the environment which led to the insurrection. As I was ramping up, my son John took a step back. He was taking the path of understanding which stopped me in my tracks. How do we come together as a nation divided? What expertise can we rely on to create unity as citizens of democracy? The call to action for nonprofits and America is urgent, compelling, and critical.


It’s time to dig deep, pack up lessons learned in 2020 and do, what we do best. We build connections. We call, message, text, email, write and endlessly zoom to build connections, at appropriate intervals. We spend time, we invest in the well-being of others, first. We listen, calm, reassure and relate. The journey of discovery helps us understand what matters most to individuals. We discover common ground and a unifying goal that brings us together. These tenets help us come to understand one another.


The best fundraisers work with intention. We ask open-ended questions to learn how our donors and prospective donors are coping with all the uncertainty. We share news of the progress and challenges our nonprofits face. We offer opportunities to create change and make life better for others. We unite our donors to others through the gift of philanthropy and gratitude. The message of hope we offer is expressed in our thoughtful exchanges, which, over time create trust. Connection, relationships, trust, and a common purpose lay the foundation for unity.


There is a lot to process today. The pace and compounding stress are taking a toll. Life is not business as usual. We barely catch our breath, before the landscape morphs again. The tenets of major gift fundraising are the same principles that will bridge the divide The major gift playbook is a lesson on virtues, we can take on the road and share with everyone we meet along the way.

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