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Blueprint for Development: Major Gifts on the Petrus Development Show

In this fourth episode of the Blueprint for Development series, we dive into Major Gifts. Tara Doyon, Director of Client Services and Josh Whelan, Vice President of Petrus Development, will take you through the first four areas to look at when building a fruitful and successful Major Gifts program. They also discuss the buzz word process of Moves-Management, what steps to take to get started and setting your mindset for building the Kingdom through development and evangelization. 

In case you missed the previous episodes in this series, you can find them here:

Blueprint for Development: Infrastructure

Blueprint for Development: Communications

Blueprint for Development: Annual Fund

Show Notes:

Major Gift fundraising all starts with relationships and having deep relationships with your benefactors. A common mistake is believing that fundraising is just going around and playing golf and taking people to happy hour and the money just rolls in. Unfortunately, there is no intentional plan to build great relationship with benefactors or to galvanize more than just the development director or the priest or the executive director in the major gift process. Major gifts is a team effort. 


Four Areas

  • Case for Support: a lot of organizations are reactive and it's better to have a case of support that has your vision built around it for the next 3-5 years that's compelling, impactful and easy to understand.

*Every organization needs to set the standard of what is considered a major gift for them. 

  • Internal Benchmarks: metrics around your goals, evaluated based on your organization - how much you've raise, how many donors in your database, the numbers in your database, the capacity of your people, etc.
  • External Language: cultivate the language around how you discuss major gifts with the donor. What's a sacrificial or meaningful gift for that individual donor. 

*Office Infrastructure - Create a gift acceptance policy. Set policy and standards in place.

  • Data Organization: everyone on the team needs to be on the same page to allow you to steward your benefactors properly. It also allows you to plan for the future and understand their capacity 3-5 years down the road. 

Covid was a great example of being reactive to immediate situations. Organizations that had a successful major gifts program in place have plans for situations 3-5 years in the future and aren't needing to be reactive with their fundraising. 

Need to be intentional about being detail oriented and being fore-sightful for the future. 

Putting metrics around your planning process, setting goals on activities and face-to-face meetings, creates a framework for you to be out of your office and creating meaningful relationships with your benefactors. 

Example: setting a monthly goal of talking to 50-80 people on the phone and 10 face-to-face meetings cultivating relationship, not just making an ask. 


The Science of Development 

Moves-management process defines making touches or meaningful engagements with donors to move them up the spectrum of relationship with the organization. What are all the moves that we are going to plan out to deepen their relationship with your organization that will lead to a major gift solicitation.

Tracking and being very intentional with the plan for all of your major gifts prospects. It's a fluid process as you get to know them. 


First Steps

  1. Create a list of 20 people that you think have the capacity to make a major gift to your organization and create a very specific plan for each and every person.
  2. For every single person, before you pick up the phone, envision what the worst thing that could happen on the call is (1 - not going to answer, 2 - say not interested), then anything else will not be that bad. 
  3. Think about your current benefactors and who could help you get in front of more people. 
  4. Put yourself in the mindset that your job is not to go acquire money, your job is to go build relationships and evangelize your benefactors. You are an instrument of the ministry and of God for that benefactor. 


If you have questions for Petrus, email us at [email protected]. We’d love to chat.

And as always, we hope you have a great day today, God bless you and God bless your work.


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