4 Keys for Finding New Major Donors for Your School | npENGAGE

4 Keys for Finding New Major Donors for Your School

By on Jun 27, 2014


Finding Major Donors

joe gbwThis is a guest post by Joe Garecht, who has been involved in professional fundraising for over a decade. During that time, he’s worked with organizations large and small, helping them design profitable fundraising plans, implement new fundraising strategies, and super-charge their development efforts. Follow him on Twitter and at www.fundriasingauthority.com


One of the best ways to put your school on a firmer financial footing is to find and cultivate major donors.  Most schools spend lots of time focused on small-dollar fundraising… things like events, raffles and product sales.  While these can be good money-makers for your school, nothing can surpass a strong major donor program when it comes to helping your school’s fundraising thrive.

During my time working with schools of all different sizes, I have found that there are four essential keys that school administrators, board members, and fundraisers need to understand in order to effectively find new major donors for their school:

Key #1 – Major Donor Fundraising is All about Building Relationships

People give to schools because they have developed a relationship of some sort with that institution.  Perhaps they went there, or their kids or grandkids went there, or they know a teacher there.  Whatever the reason someone gives, it is ultimately because of a relationship, not because of the strength of your fundraising materials or the glitz of your website.

Relationship-building is the goal of the cultivation process.  Everything you do to approach and cultivate a major donor could also be called “building a relationship.”  Don’t think that just because a wealthy businessperson or local philanthropist went to your school you have a strong relationship with that person.  The relationship can start with someone attending your school or sending their children there, but you need to work on  the relationship and build on that foundation.

The stronger the relationship is, the more likely the person is to make a gift to your school and become a lifelong donor / supporter of your cause.

Key #2 – Relationships Are Built With People

All true relationships are built between people.  If your school gets a donation or sponsorship from a business, understand that it is impossible to build a lasting relationship between your institution and a business entity.  Yes, the business may support your schoopl financially, offer staff volunteers to work your events, etc… but in almost every case that help will be driven by one or two people at the business who have a relationship with your school – a relationship that was built through cultivation.

For that reason, when you are cultivating a business, non-profit or other organization, it is important that your staff identifies one or two key decision makers at the business or organization to build a relationship with.  Once you get the decision maker on board, you will get the business on board.  As your relationship with the person strengthens, so too will your school’s relationship with the business.

Relationships are built person to person.

Key #3 – People Like to Feel Like Part of a Team

The final two keys are a pseudo-psychology lesson on donors and prospects. 

The first lesson is this: people (all people!) like to feel like part of a team.  Everyone on Earth wants to feel like they are joined in a relationship with other people who are all marching towards a common goal.

Thus, one of the key strategies for your school’s cultivation efforts should be to make people feel like part of your team.  Ask them for their suggestions.  Keep them constantly in the loop.  Invite them to exclusive events.  Give them branded materials that show the world that they are part of your team (Buttons?  Bumper stickers?  Pens?)  Make them feel like you’re all one big team working towards a common vision (you are, aren’t you?!)

Key #4 – People Like to Be Caught Up in a Larger Vision

The next psychology lesson is this: people like to be caught up in a larger vision.  Most people, even the rich and famous, get “stuck” in their daily routines.  They get up, go to work, eat meals, play with the kids on the weekends, retire and do some traveling or relaxing, and grow old watching the grandkids play. 

Because most people don’t like the fact that they get stuck in a “standard” routine, they like to break free by getting caught up in bigger stories and visions.  Epic movies, great novels, and a night at the symphony are all ways to escape the humdrum and get caught up in a larger story. 

You might not realize it yet, but your school is another great way for people to escape the routine and get caught up in a larger story and vision for the future.  Think about it – what work are you doing at your school that makes it so compelling?  Are you offering an unparalleled education?  Teaching children to be future leaders, doctors, academics, parents, ethical human beings?  Are you serving disadvantaged children or communities?

People want to get caught up in your vision… so let them!  Cast a big vision, and paint a big picture.  Don’t assume that just because someone went to your school or sent their kids there that they are caught up in your vision.  You need to cast a big story for major donors, tell them why you need the money, and what amazing things you will be able to do with it.

Your cultivation process has to be about engaging people in your vision and allowing them to escape the routine by working with you to meet your common challenges and accomplish your common mission.




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Comments (13)

  • waseem siddique says:

    I neeed money for my school in pakistan kot radha kishen distric kasur

  • Pascal for Buseregenyu community says:

    Thank you very much Mr.Joe for your effort and kindness to create and compile this peace of advice. However, we are a community in Uganda, very very deep in a rural area where we have no secondary school, the nearest being at 30km. Thus, many of our children drop out of school after primary level, girls have got married at tender age and boys being jobless. The very few who can afford boarding school fees, have taken their children to further studies. However, we want to start a simple secondary school affordable to all parents of the area, because its a very very poor community. Now, my humble request is your help to find some donors for us. we shall be very great when you come to be part of us in this struggle for the poor children. Thank you very much.

  • BIMAL MARDI says:

    I wants to open for needy children an super english mediom school ,if i get anyones greatful hend then it may make up.

    thouse who are not lookingup studies ,cultures,cultivations of anything to live save there life,they are belonging in tribal cummunitys persons ,thouse who are very angry and very soft minds,who will thinking about them he become may great .

  • Charles Tamela says:

    It very interesting reading your article and got me way out to help schools. Sir l’m from Papua New Guinea and currently I’m an head teacher of a remote school which is very much a run down for years. I’ve tried with the help from the Board of Management to raise funds to support the learning of children but still we ran short of the target. With little assistance from the Education authority we struggled to get the school going. Please we need your assistance.

    Keep on the good work. God bless

  • karuli leonard says:

    am karuli leonard ineed support for my school am augandan

  • Asmara Asura says:

    I am Asmera Asura I need highly financial support for my school building.
    hopefully i turst in you you will stand in my biside for this holy objective it is in Arba Minch Ethiopia.
    thank you in Advance.

  • Edwin says:

    Hello.my name is Edwin willingly and supporting children who are orphans.i own a school which i try to assist this wonderful creatures. i tryto feed them with the little i have.i wish if i can get someone to assist me

  • Ezekia philimon says:

    Hi sir l’m Ezekia philimon I want to build a school to help People with disabilities and orphans to complete their education.Up to now I have only area to build that school but l’m not finacially fit to build the school so I beg assistance from you to rich that goals

  • Labaran Fati says:

    Iam Labaran Fati,thank you very much for your great shared ideas.I happened to find my self in Ghana,in the upper east region, Navrongo.I have started a preschool to help the poor child start school early.Feeding, furniture, and a good structure to accommodate the kids are my biggest challenge. I am currently running the school alone and would be greatful if I get donor support. Be part of us and bring light to the poor child. Thanks.

  • paskalia cherono says:

    Hi. iam paskalia from kenya dealing in learners early years,i have constructed semi permanent structures for there shelter/classrooms but need more funds to construct modern classrooms and facilities for Early years education for learners from poor income settlement.support given shall be appreciated because it üill uplift the life and standards of the people in the environment and eradicate poverty vission 2013 goal.Thanks

  • OKWII SAM says:

    Hi sir am so greatful for help you have rendered to the rest but Im Okwii Sam from Uganda aremote place in katakwi district north East place where karamojongs killed most people left children as orphans so I have tried star school but we still lack classroom and book please if there is way let’s help this children

  • arfeen says:

    Hello.my name is Arfeen my school is situated in poor area of karachi and there i m supporting children who are orphans for this purpose for i need books , furniture and some part of building reparing and constraction . plese help me . u can see . weel come in my school . i can forward students and building pics.

  • D.samuel raj says:

    Dear brethren,
    Greetings.This is samuel raj minister for sathy church of christ,India. I

    visited your web pages. I praise you for this. My wife Jothi and myself

    were running a Eden Garden Nursery and primary school in a rented

    place from 2000 year. Nearly 100 students are studying in our school.We

    do not have any regular funds from any sources. We offten get trouble to

    run the school.Hence we are searching for sponsers to continue our

    school.Please find any financial source for us.We will grateful for this.
    Hope to hear from you soon
    God bless you
    D.Samuel raj
    S.Jothimani( my wife)
    4/4, E.B.Colony
    School name: Eden Garden and nursery and primary school,

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