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Building a Major Gifts Pipeline Despite BIG Obstacles

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Every organization is different with its own unique challenges but start at the beginning and catalogue your strengths, says Adrienne Capps, CFRE, and you’ll ultimately find success.

Capps should know. She’s started, repaired, recharged and/or expanded major gifts programs at four entirely different organizations, dealing with a variety of issues and challenges.

She’ll share those experiences—and what’s she learned—during a webinar on Sept. 13 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

“I went to a business school to build up its major gifts program, and the perception was, ‘oh, a business school, major gifts should be easy there’,” Capps says. “But it wasn’t because there wasn’t a culture or history of major giving. Then I’ve worked at organizations that were relatively new with no established set of major donors, and then at organizations where the cause was sensitive, potentially controversial and didn’t seem to jibe—at first—with the predominant culture of the community.”

Capps, currently the assistant dean for development and external relations and senior management team member at the University of California-Davis School of Education, says that every organization has its unique challenges that the outside world doesn’t always see. Instead of focusing on the challenges, fundraisers need to take stock of what they have, emphasize their strengths and look for ways to be creative and entrepreneurial.

“You may be at an organization that’s never had a major gifts program, or maybe even much of a fundraising program at all,” she said. “But it must have supporters and people who helped create the institutions and have a strong sense of ownership towards it. There are always steps to success—it’s simply a matter of identify and understanding what you have to work with and capitalizing on those assets.”

Hearing New Approaches

During her presentation, Capps will talk about reviewing every aspect of a fundraising program, such as examining annual fund donors, board members and their friends/colleagues, volunteers and their friends/colleagues, and alumni from other areas of the university, among others.

She’ll also be looking at issues related to working with newer organizations that may not have an established major gift program, or work on potentially controversial issues. But she stresses that anyone working in major gifts will appreciate and learn something from the webinar.

“All organizations, whether you’re just starting out or have a long-running major gifts program, are never perfect,” Capps says. “There always need to be opportunities to hear other experiences, listen to new approaches and learn ideas for tweaking programs. That’s what my presentation is—an opportunity to hear new approaches through my examples, and hopefully get some ideas on how you can apply my experiences to your own organization.”

Building a Major Gifts Pipeline Despite BIG Obstacles, presented by Adrienne Capps, CFRE, will be held on Sept. 13, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern. The presentation will help attendees learn techniques to create a robust major gifts pipeline; develop creative and entrepreneurial strategies to find major gift prospects; realize and capitalize on assets and strengths; examine and overcome common problems like no or young alumni, lesser known causes, and working for new organizations. To learn more and register, click here.