Annual Giving and Major Giving: Key Distinctions

If you want to enjoy strong results through your annual giving program, you should focus on educating/reminding people why your institution/program/service matters.  The well-crafted annual ask encourages people to look back on the value of your institution/program/service and reflect on its importance.  Donors make annual gifts to your institution because they have come to believe that the world is better today because of your work.  In other words, your institution makes a difference.

On the other hand, most successful major gift programs regularly lift the gaze of the prospect toward a horizon of “what could be.”  The well-crafted major gift request inspires prospects to look forward and imagine a promising future that will be shaped by your institution and based on their leadership giving.  Donors stretch to make major gifts to your institution because they have come to believe that their giving will provide for a tomorrow that is better than today.   In other words, your institution has great promise to make a difference.

More often than not, sustained annual giving is borne out of a reflex of generosity — a reflex that has been perfected through philanthropic branding and the shaping of personal beliefs.  On the other hand, major giving is borne out of a voluntary decision-making process in which the donor has come to believe that giving to your institution/program/service has the potential to change the world (or at least an important part of it!).

For both your annual and major giving programs, the more consistently your institution engages and solicits donors based on an understanding of these distinctions, the more money you will raise.








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