The Major Gifts Initiative

Project Overview

The Major Gifts Initiative (MGI) is a benefit of membership in the Station Resource Group. The first round of the MGI is a thirteen month effort (June 1998 – June 1999) for up to twelve stations. SRG plans a second round for additional stations in early 1999.

MGI assumes that participating stations see this as a next step after achieving a stable and growing annual base of membership support, especially where memberships at and above the $250 level have been introduced and embraced by the community. Participating stations should also have an established underwriting program that provides a stable income source. With SRG acting as project manager, Carol Eddy and Claudia Chouinard of Results Group will deliver the training and expert major giving counsel mentioned in this summary.

The Major Gifts Initiative builds on the success of SRG’s Leaders Partnership project last year. Five SRG members, WBEZ, WBUR, WRKF, WUWM and Vermont Public Radio collectively increased their major gift revenue by more than $371,000­sixty-two percent over the previous year.

The stations in the Leaders Partnership exceeded the modest goals they set at the beginning of their project. Several believe they have seen strong longer-term results in areas tangential to this project: bequests and planned gifts, new opportunities for corporate and foundation support, and membership upgrades at the $250 to $999 levels. These pilot stations reported that the project helped board and staff leadership become more aware of the impressive potential for larger gifts and far more motivated in seeking these gifts.

Just as with the Leaders Partnership, participants in the Major Gifts Initiative will develop clear, compelling answers to the question, "Why should I make a large gift to your station? What will be the benefit to me and my community?" And, perhaps most importantly, they will see first hand that the general manager, staff, and board members of every public radio station can be enormously effective fundraising resources.

We learned through the Leaders Partnership that this investment in staff time is the single most important factor affecting station success in this project. For stations to achieve the maximum benefit from this project, development staff and the general manager must be ready to make a significant commitment to both the time and process needed to cultivate and solicit major gifts. One fundraising staff member should expect to spend at least twenty hours each week on this work.

In many communities, public radio is not yet considered on a par with a museum, hospital, or university as a high priority for generous philanthropic gifts. The Major Gifts Initiative will help stations take steps toward changing those perceptions in their community, first within staff and board and then among donors and prospects.

SRG stations participating in the Major Gifts Initiative will enjoy learning new professional skills individually and from one another. Working in this group will increase performance through peer interaction and the sharing of new ideas. The success of this collaboration will provide solid experience for future SRG projects.

Fund Raising Capacity

Major Gifts Initiative

Getting Results
Are You Ready?
What We Do
Keeping Track
Project Costs

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