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major gift strategy | who is sitting at your table?

who is sitting at your table?

Major Gift Strategy

We are coming close to the end of what I call a “gala season” in certain parts of the country.  Last Friday was the last one on my calendar for the year.  The host (who was a board member) made a pitch for support after everyone heard a very moving story.  He started with an anonymous match of $50,000 and set the goal for another $50,000. Starting with a request for a $25,000 gift and ending at requests for $500 from people in the room the goal was matched.  This is not my preferred major gift strategy of raising major gifts but many nonprofits do this.

If you are going to do this major gift strategy then it is important to make sure you have some great people in the room.  Yesterday, I met with a CEO who raised $1.5 million from their October gala and they too raised a lot of money from people in the room.  The question I always ask is “did you leave money on the table?”. . .(literally).  How can you go back to that donor in the next year for a major gift when they most likely feel really good about what they did?  Are you going to follow up with prospects?

At another function, a group of eight men who are friends were sitting at a table and someone from the charity came up and asked why they hadn’t brought their spouses.  The donor then asked that person, “would you rather have eight gifts from everyone at this table or four if we came with our spouses?”  Thus, the thought for the week:  Who is sitting at your tables is important and should be thought out carefully.  Having worked at a major university’s development office I know that a great deal of time and thought is given to major gift strategy with the setup of each function and room.

Take a look at your table. Did you invite the right people?


“In the time we have it is surely our duty to do all the good

 we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.”

 – William Barclay



Written by Paul D’Alessandro

Founder and Chairman

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