Consistently raising unrestricted major gifts requires an intentional ask, faith in leadership, and the power of community.
Fundraisers often assume that major gift proposals must be restricted in order to be successful. Conventional wisdom says that the most sophisticated philanthropists demand a specifically defined use of their donation.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy challenges this thinking in No Strings Attached: Advice from Groups That Landed Big Unrestricted Gifts. Author Alex Daniels states “donors may be more predisposed to [unrestricted gifts] than you might think.” We absolutely agree.
The advice that Daniels collected from fundraisers that successfully landed unrestricted mega gifts include:
• Ask for the unrestricted gift.
• Inspire confidence in the organization and its leaders.
• Use one gift to encourage others.
These points are consistent with our experience. Virtually all of the $131 million in gifts raised through Westfall Gold’s major donor events in 2017 were undesignated, including seven figure donations as large as $5 million. This is the result of our carefully crafted strategy implemented through the events we produce:
• Build the complete case – intellectual, emotional, and transformational.
• Build bridges of trust – a deep relational connection between the donor and the organization.
• Build a community – a powerful new identity for your donor group.
Broadly incorporating these principles into your major donor development initiatives will result in the growth of transformational, unrestricted gifts to your organization.
Insights for Westfall Gold Clients
The Westfall Gold team is focused on raising unrestricted major gifts by presenting a compelling case, creating an relational experience, and framing a transformational ask. For example, your pillars will help prospective donors understand the organization’s vision and overarching impact, without being tied to any specific program. Your Senior Consultant will coach you through the creation of giving handles, which will provide examples of the pillars without creating investable opportunities. Coupled with the complete case and relationship building, our approach to framing the ask results in significant commitments without restriction.