Major Gift Fundraising: Tech, Metrics, and Moves Management

By Carl Diesing, Guest Author 

Major gift fundraising is a task that requires significant coordination among your nonprofit’s development team, involving multiple team members, meetings, and weeks or months to secure a single gift.

Successful major gift fundraising requires adequate planning and preparation to ensure your team has all they need to move a prospect forward. In this crash course on major gift fundraising, we’ll cover the following elements that are essential to creating a solid foundation for your programming:

  • Major Gift Fundraising Technology

  • Major Gift Metrics

  • Moves Management

Major gift metrics and moves management both depend on the accurate tracking of fundraising data— something that’s a challenge if your tech stack isn’t up to par. Because of that, let’s first discuss the most important tech for major gift fundraising and how you can align your tech and fundraising strategy for overall success.


Major Gift Fundraising Technology

When it comes to creating a tech foundation for your major gift fundraising, your constituent relationship management (CRM) software, major gift-specific software, and prospect research software need to work in tandem.

Let’s look at each solution:

  • CRM Software: This is your main database, containing all of the information about your various fundraising, advocacy, and stewardship efforts. We’re not necessarily recommending investing in a new CRM, but rather to revisit your database and make sure it’s in top shape. Ensure there are no incomplete, inaccurate, or duplicate records that could unnecessarily complicate the major gift fundraising process.

  • Major Gift Software: There are solutions created specifically for tracking major gift fundraising, such as Blackbaud Fundraiser Performance Management (FPM). Tools like these should integrate directly with your CRM and allow you to track the performance of individual fundraisers and your overall program. With Blackbaud FPM, you can compare your performance against other organizations and create push notifications to ensure major gift officers stay up-to-date with each step in your moves management cadence.

  • Prospect Research Software: According to Double the Donation’s guide, prospect research allows you to discover individuals who have a high affinity for your organization alongside a financial capacity that would enable them to make a large gift. Prospect research software allows you to automate some of this research and access key databases to learn more about prospective major donors.

The last thing you want is for each of these solutions to be floating on its own “island” so to speak, isolated from the others. Instead, aim to integrate all three so data flows seamlessly across the solutions. This is something that you can work with a nonprofit technology consultant to accomplish if needed.


Major Gift Metrics

Major gift metrics are the data points used to track the health of a major gift fundraising program, examining both the health of the program overall and the success of individual officers. DNL OmniMedia’s guide to major gift metrics notes that 88% of a nonprofit’s total revenue comes from the top 12% of donors, so it’s crucial to understand the success of your program.

Tracking the following metrics will provide a clear picture of your program’s success:

  • Prospects: Track metrics such as the total new prospects identified and total prospects that you’re contacting overall. This provides insight into the depth of your major gift officers’ prospect research. Also, track past donor retention and donor referrals— these metrics give insight into the strength of the relationships you have with current supporters that you’re considering soliciting from again.

  • Communications: Track the number of emails, phone calls, and letters sent by your major gift officers. What’s the response rate of those communications? How can you increase that number?

  • Meaningful Connections: This refers to the meetings major gift officers make with prospects that meaningfully move a major gift prospect closer toward making a gift. You’ll want to track the number of appointments made, appointments kept, and site visits.

  • Donations Requested and Received: This is probably the most straightforward metric on this list. You’ll want to track the number of gift asks made, and how many of those actually resulted in a donation.

Tracking this data allows you to reconnect with your team, as you can recognize high performance as well as those who could use assistance alleviating blockers to their success. You can add metrics to this list as they pertain to your team’s specific strategy. 


Moves Management

In the world of major gift fundraising, moves are defined as the various touchpoints that happen along the path toward a major gift. With that in mind, moves management is the process of orchestrating the ideal sequence of touchpoints to lead a prospect toward a major gift, and tracking prospects along the way to ensure the sequence goes forward without a hitch.

Your moves management process is the foundation on which your major gift fundraising program stands. Here are the steps for crafting your major gift management strategy:

  1. Define your audience. What does the ideal major gift prospect look like for your organization?

  2. Identify prospects. Who within your current supporter base fits within that prospect persona?

  3. Set goals. What size of gift are you hoping each individual prospect will make?

  4. Create a cultivation plan. For each prospect, what are the steps that you will follow to lead them toward a gift?

The cultivation plan may be standardized across all prospects or unique to each individual. Then, once prospects have successfully been led through the gift cultivation process, your major gift officers will make their asks. Determine the next steps based on the success of these asks— for example, you’ll either be considering how to thank and retain major supporters or how to revise your moves management strategy to more successfully secure a gift.


Securing a major gift is often a weeks to months-long process that incorporates the efforts of multiple team members. With careful metrics tracking and moves management, empowered by your tech stack, this process will be more likely to progress smoothly from start to finish. 



Carl Diesing, is Managing Director and co-founder of DNL OmniMedia, an organization that was launched in 2006 and has helped 100 organizations accomplish their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Charlie and Evelyn.

{link_name} handles all validations and customer service for TechSoup Canada customers. Visit {link_name}arrow