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Get One Board Member Who Will Champion Your Cause

Reprinted with permission from The Major Gifts Report newsletter (

If your nonprofit has little history of securing major gifts, one the most important steps you can take is to enlist a financially capable board member who knows and is respected by others of means. If that person does nothing more than to help identify and attract other board members, he/she will have made a significant contribution to your cause.

Here’s one approach for enlisting such an individual:

  1. First, review your inner circle of most generous contributors. Who among them already has an affinity to the work of your charity? Your “champion” will hopefully reside within this group. If not, you may need to look for another who has a history of philanthropy to other causes within your community and begin to cultivate his/her interest. This latter option may have equal potential to the first but will require more time nurturing his/her interest and involvement.

  2. Begin meeting individually with your top three or four choices. Explain that your goal is to bring someone of his/her stature on board with the sole intent of identifying, cultivating and enlisting others of means to join your board or to eventually make a major gift.

  3. As you meet with each potential champion, be up front and specific about your expectations: “I would like you to give at least one year of your time — meeting on a monthly basis — to identify and cultivate 10 individuals who have the capability of making $10,000-and-above gifts to our charity.”

  4. Once an individual has agreed to work with you, meet regularly to review names and discuss possible approaches for each prospect the two of you identify. Offer to accompany your champion on calls, but be clear that he/she will be key at making introductions and being involved in the friend-building process.

By following this procedure with one willing individual throughout the course of a year, you will be building a foundation that will eventually result in attracting capable individuals who will one day invest generously in your cause.


About The Major Gifts Report : This article is being reprinted from The Major Gifts Report newsletter with the permission of Stevenson, Inc., PO Box 4528, Sioux City, IA 51104. Phone (712) 239-3010. Fax (712) 239-2166. Website:

Established in 1993, Stevenson, Inc. publishes six monthly nationally-acclaimed newsletters with thousands of subscribers throughout the U.S., Canada and other foreign countries. They include:

  • Successful Fund Raising
  • Special Events Galore
  • The Membership Management Report
  • The Volunteer Management Report
  • The Major Gifts Report
  • Nonprofit Communications Report

The newsletters are sold on an annual subscription basis, focus on specific aspects of nonprofit and association management and carry no advertising. Additionally, the company has published several "hands-on" manuals and special reports. To see a sample or subscribe to any of these newsletters, visit Stevenson, Inc. at

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