What Is a Major Donor?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A major donor is one who gives significant donations to an organization. This kind of philanthropist tends to be wealthy, especially interested in the cause being supported, and has had a previous relationship with the organization. Many major donors will start with small contributions and slowly increase support over time.

The traditional major donor tended to focus on prestigious causes, often with the intent of getting recognition for supporting an organization. Typical modern major donors tend to be more concerned about the change an organization will have on society. Many will focus their giving on specific kinds of causes in the hopes of implementing a specific kind of change. Modern major donors are also usually less interested in recognition and may even prefer to stay anonymous.

Major donors will often give generously to multiple organizations. Many are deeply involved in civic affairs. As a typical major donor will want to know an organization well before deciding to make a significant commitment, many will become involved in some capacity first. For example, many major donors have previously served on the board of the organization they support. It can be beneficial to maintain contact will all donors, volunteers, and other relevant individuals who have been affiliated with the organization because of this.

Many organizations will target well-known philanthropists or the wealthiest individuals when searching for a major donor. While this can yield satisfactory results, it is also likely that these donors are already overwhelmed with requests. It can be more beneficial to focus on finding donors who support causes similar to that of the organization.

One of the most likely places an organization can find a major donor is among the people who have already made a donation. It can be easier to win additional support from a current donor rather than attract the interest of an entirely new party. This is primarily because this group does not need to be convinced of the value of the organization.

Once a major donor has been secured, the organization can do several things to encourage further support. Keeping the donor updated on current and future activities can be an effective way of staying in front of the donor while also demonstrating the value of contributing. Giving major donors an inside track on the workings of the organization and perks or special attention where appropriate and relevant can also be beneficial.

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