Something big happens when major donors become more
knowledgeable in their giving — they give more.

The U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy  shows a clear link between charitable giving knowledge and gift size. Major donors who considered themselves as “expert” gave 7.9 x as much as “novice” donors.

Charitable Giving Knowledge

Total Giving







Data from the 2014 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy.  Note that we reference data from the 2014 U.S. Trust Study  as its respondents better reflect the perspective of major donors.

What Expert Givers Have in Common

Expert givers share some common attributes. 84 percent said they had confidence that their giving is having the intended impact. To that end, 78 percent of expert major donors take steps to monitor their charitable giving impact. In addition, 77 percent say they are either utilizing or planning to utilize a giving vehicle — such as a donor advised fund or gift of non-cash assets.

Attitudes and Habits of Charitable Giving "Experts"

"I receive personal fulfillment from my giving"


"My giving is having the intended impact"


"I have or plan to establish a giving vehicle"


"I monitor or evaluate charitable giving impact"


Data from the 2014 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. 

 It’s the Caseload Manager’s Job

As the leader of a development team, you need to ensure your caseload managers understand this: Increasing donor giving expertise is their job. You’ve got to create expert givers.

The easiest way? Help them monitor the impact of their giving. That starts with showing them the value of their gift to you. Provide project reports. Schedule time for them to talk with program staff or constituents you serve. Invite them to the field. And always make sure they have a current annual report as well as case studies and stories of impact.

Second, connect them with specialists in planned giving and donor advised funds.  One of the most innovative donor advised funds in the nation, WaterStone, works with non-profit organizations to educate and equip their donors about intentional giving strategies. They provide a number of free resources and seminars for development teams and donors.


Build Better Donors — and Watch Your Average Gift Grow

The vast majority of high net worth individuals (86 percent) do not consider themselves experts in giving. The door is wide open for your development team to build this expertise in your donor base. Sit down with your team and ask, “How can we help educate our donors?” Build multiple gift training touches into your moves management plan, and use these opportunities to create your own expert givers … and watch your average gift increase significantly.


Insights for Westfall Gold Clients:

In addition to presenting a compelling case and building deep relationships, Westfall Gold’s major donor event model includes several components designed to increase giving expertise.

We strongly recommend having a donor advised fund manager or financial advisor present a 20 minute session introducing asset-based giving strategies, which reduce tax liability and increase charitable giving. That representative should be available throughout the weekend to engage with your prospective donors, develop relationships, and answer questions. Complex asset gifts take time to execute, so follow-up after the event is critical.

Your Senior Consultant will also recommend inspirational speakers on the topic of philanthropy.  The best talks will address how giving generously has profoundly impacted the speaker’s life.  This will help your donors consider their role as philanthropists.

Starting with your second event, programing will include an impact report to share how your organization has utilized the funds raised from the prior event. Your Senior Consultant will help you frame these results and provide direction on how to communicate them effectively.


About Bob Westfall

Bob Westfall | CEO

Bob launched Westfall Gold in 2002 with a singular mission: To help clients fund transformational impact around the world. Inspired by the Parable of the Talents, he has drawn on his experience in major donor development to build one of the country’s preeminent fundraising consultancies. Bob is a recognized expert on major donor fundraising, and is accredited as a Master Trainer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He also serves as a Director of The Giving Institute, and is a highly sought-after speaker at leadership and development conferences around the world.

Connect with Bob by clicking here.

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