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

4 Keys for Finding New Major Donors for Your School



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.




From time to time, a guest blogger will appear on npENGAGE. Guest bloggers are industry experts contributing useful, relevant content to the conversation on npENGAGE. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, contact the editor.

Comments (18)

  • Wilma A. Balderas says:

    Sir please help our school. We have shortage of classrooms.We have 7 classes (kinder to Grade VI) but we only have 4 classrooms.Please help us find donors of school building.

    Thank you.

  • Francis Bagwasi says:

    Am à disabled and I own à school in Kenya kisii county Kiogoro division. Thé school is called Nyandwaki satellite academy

  • Clifford says:

    I am a secretary of chisomo girls secondary school. We have two classes currently. But our target is to have four classes form one to form 4. Would you please help us to find donors interested in educating a girl children?
    Clifford makamo


    sir please help our school we have shortage of classes,hostels,kitchen,dining hall and some staff of school.plz sir help us to find doners of school buildings.we are being found from MBEYA TANZANIA.Our school is called USHINDI SECONDARY SCHOOL.Thanks for your consideration

  • Kaman Kumar says:

    Sir please help me for my school.I need money because poor student’s readin my school.parents can’t paid school fee.and school borrow25lakh rupees.so help me.my school name is Maheshwari balvidya mandir in Mathura u.p (India).my con.number is 08192040988.

  • Jacob Modise says:

    Dear Sir/Madam, kindly assist our School in South Africa with donation as is under transformation process from Junior Secondary to Primary English medium school. Our school name is Ubuhle-Bezwe Primary School situated at Soshanguve, Pretoria, RSA. My portfolio is SGB Chairperson: Jacob Modise, Tel: +27 71 203 6270

  • Mbinye Ismail says:

    my Watoto Nuruni English and computing centre , we are looking donors to support us adding more furnitures, computers , building finishing and books
    our centre was in Tanzania in Mwanza region at Ilemela district at Nyamhongolo ward in Iwelyashinga street, the area was covered with indigenous who can not afford a good education for their kids.So we are looking any support to make it happen for good education to them.

    Director : Mbinye Ismail
    +255 754 710 405

  • Sheshrao N Khairnar says:

    SIR,I’m a teacher and now working in a hilly,dry area of Surgana,Nasik(Maharashtra)in India from last 16 years. I would like to develop my school in all areas.We have available some facilities in our school.But our learners are from poor Adiwasi families and not liable to suppport school.We want your kind support in developing my school.If there is a need,I will send some real photographs of my school.Please help us.We are waiting for your response.

  • Elias Githaiga says:

    Hi sir, am Elias headteacher in a public primary school in Kenya, our school needs classrooms and toilets as the available one are in deplorable conditions.The parents whose children learn in our school are very poor as the surrounding area is arid and has no meaningful economic activities they can engage in so they cannot be in a position to undertake any big project. Pose assist us.


    Hello sir, thank you for good work. I need $9030 for roofing the school here in Uganda, help me to get funds. Tel. +256782902591.

  • Livingstone Kibuuka says:

    I have loved what i have read above. My school is PREMA JUNIOR SCHOOL. It is in Uganda. It has a facebook page. We are lacking play items, enough play materials and also better structures. I badly need support and advice.

  • Chistina says:

    Thank you for your concern especially to the poor. We are missionaries Of religious congregation. we started a school after discovered to help which serves those in very rural part. The school is in Tanga region in Tanzania. We have 4 classes of form one to form two and would like to continue up to form four.
    We are kindly asking for your support
    Thank you

  • Phana says:

    Hie sir thank for your good work.our school need roof books and furniture .it was destroyed by rain my school is in Zimbabwe Lupane name of school is kabela school thanks

  • Mehdi Ali Khan says:

    Sir. My Name is Mehdi Ali Khan and I belong to a remote area namely as Gilgit Baltistan which is situated in Pakistan. My Qualification is MBA (Finance).I am honest and punctual person. I want to open a private school in remote areas and give free quality education to the poor residence of village/remote areas. In this regard I need funds (money) please help me to contact with an interested and kind doners who want to help the poor peoples of village/remote areas. I am very thankful to you in this regard please.
    My ful Detail are as below:-
    Name:- Mehdi Ali Khan
    Contact No:- +92344-8801701
    email:- kachomehdi786@gmail.com

  • Valence JOSEPH lyimo says:

    We have area for building english medium primary school To helping orphanage or vulnerable chilrens, school name will be VAGLO english medium primary school, we are requesting for funds for buiding three classes to accomodate those childrens, am school Director, phone no.0782427013 or 0764025835

  • pethias sakala says:

    sir please help me money for school my parents was died in 2015 so how live with my brothers and sisters and i dont have home to stay am living in an finished house and there is no roof on top of the house

    thank you sir: am pethias from zambia and my email address dicksenpethias@gmail.com

  • Christopher Charles says:

    CHRIS MHEMA -Dodoma tz.
    I am looking for secondary school donors so as to assist Success Open School to accomplish its school buildings at Mpwapwa. God bless you. +255 718 169 832.


    My school need sponsorships please how can i go about it

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