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-- Bonnie W., St. Michael's Academy, Texas
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by Larry Weaver

Major Gifts, part 1 looks at major donors, and part of it deals with determining what constitutes a “major” donor or donation. Another part centers around what sorts of information you’ll want to have at hand when working with those major donors.

In FundRaiser Basic, you can always pull a list of major donors, using the Query function. This is true whether you are looking at total all-time giving, total giving during a specific time period, or individual donations of a certain amount during any time period. Once the query is established, you can print out reports for just the people in the query. In fact, FundRaiser Basic has a special report (print menu : Major Donor Report) that can pull people based on either a total amount given during a time period or based on a donor’s giving expressed as a percentage of all giving during that time period, and it pulls them automatically with no query required.

So far as keeping miscellaneous personal information about major donors, the best place (disregarding gift data, since the gift records themselves can be queried) is in the donor notes section of each individual’s record. Each name record can hold up to 16 pages of information in the notes section. The Donor Report in the Print menu has one report variation that will print out almost all information, including notes, about each donor (or each donor in a query, if you have one active), and while it requires at least one page per donor (depending on how many pages of notes you’ve entered), it can be a real help to someone who is contacting a major donor for the first time.

As with all information gathering, it helps to have a consistent data entry system, and to follow your own outlines with regard to what needs to be recorded, and where that needs to be placed. When you have clear guidelines as to what types of information is needed (and what information has no place in your records) then you can begin to focus on what you can DO with all that information.
Be aware that even the built-in Word Processor can be used as a report generator, of sorts. Check out the example “Phonathon” letter template, which is included in the sample templates that come with the program, to get an idea of how this might help you get the data you want, laid out in a sequence that makes sense to you.

The most important thing regarding information about major donors is that you can only use it if you’ve entered it, so take the steps to 1) define what a “major donor” is for your organization, 2) outline exactly what types of non-gift information you want on hand, and to 3) train your data-entry people (even if that’s you) to get in the habit of entering the same data the same way for every major donor. In the long run, these extra steps will save you a lot of time and make it much easier to cultivate your major donors, and even to help bring some “almost” major donors up to the next level of giving.


Major Gifts, part 1: What makes a gift major by Tony Poderis

Major gifts, part 2: Working with donor solicitors by Tony Poderis