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Major Gift Strategy for K-12 Christian Schools. Do you have one?

I recently led a workshop for Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) titled Kingdom Building Capital; Redefining Capital Campaigns for Christian Schools.  Several Heads of School, Development Directors, and board members were in attendance. 

The discussion around Major Gifts definitely drew a lot of attention.  Every successful capital campaign I have been involved in has had an intentional major gift strategy. 

During this portion of the conversation, I asked the group “Do you have a written major gift strategy for your school?”  Only one person raised their hand and it was a tentative “Yes?”.

A major gift strategy for schools (and churches) is sort of like a personal fitness plan.  We all know that not only do we need one but we need to actually follow it.  However, it is not necessarily the most comfortable topic and there always seems to be ‘more important and urgent’ matters at hand.  

You have probably heard the saying “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The next best time is today.”  That’s the way I feel about a major gift strategy for a school.  If you expect people to give major gifts, you have to ask for them.  You can’t/shouldn’t ask for a major gift if that is the first time you have a meaningful conversation with the prospective donor.  I think most people intuitively know this but our actions are quite different.  

So, here’s the exercise I led the group through during the workshop.  It’s this simple.  “Take five minutes and write down 10 families/individuals you feel have the ability to give your school $50k or more over a three year giving period.  They can be parents, grandparents, alumni or community leaders.”  

The group willingly participated and I had several people tell me before they left that it was the first time they had ever actually written names down.  Written goals and tasks are executed at a much higher rate than goals and tasks that remain in our heads.  Watch this video for my thoughts on writing things down.  

I then promised the group a spreadsheet tool to help them take the next steps in developing their major gift strategy.  Shoot me an email and I’ll send you that spreadsheet.  

Whether you send me an email or not, please take 5 minutes to write down at least 10 potential major givers.  You will then be on your way.  

I enjoy coaching leaders through this critical element of comprehensive development programs in schools.  Every school needs a major gift strategy whether a capital campaign is on the horizon or not.  I have never met a HOS who says “We have all the money we need to do everything we need to do for our students and teachers.”  

Let me hear from you if you’d like to talk more about creating or improving a major gift strategy for your school.  Email me at


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