Supporting exceptional careers in philanthropy

Raising Your Organization's Largest Gifts

“Raising an organization’s largest gifts—and making sure those gifts are as large as they can and need to be—requires an especially intense focus and discipline that must be understood, embraced, and sustained by leadership across an organization.” from Raising Your Organization’s Largest Gifts: A Principal Gifts Handbook, by Ronald J. Schiller

The ALG Approach:

While 95 to 96 percent of fundraising revenue typically comes from 2 to 3 percent of donors, the top ten donors alone—representing only a fraction of 1 percent of the donor base—typically give more than 40 percent of the total raised, sometimes as much as 80 percent. Success in securing the largest possible gifts—in and out of campaigns—comes as the result of a sustained and sophisticated principal gift effort focused on a small number of potential donors. This effort varies from standard major gift fundraising efforts in each stage of the fundraising process.

Our primary objective is to help you significantly increase the total amount of your top ten gifts. In doing so, based on our experience, we expect you will also strengthen your culture of philanthropy, improve confidence levels, and inspire ambitious planning throughout your organization, thus achieving growth in fundraising results at all levels.

Specifically, and in combination as needed and desired, we offer

  • An assessment of your organization’s capacity to raise your largest possible gifts on a sustained basis—based on examination of multiple characteristics of the most successful principal gift programs and your organization’s performance against these ideal characteristics—and formulation of a plan to strengthen performance in each area;
  • Counsel to boards and presidents on requirements for sustained success in principal gift fundraising, through customized workshops and facilitated retreats;
  • Ongoing strategic thought partnership for chief development officers focused on shaping, implementing, and expanding successful principal gift programs;
  • Coaching of front-line officers for principal gifts work, to grow in-house talent and retain top performers.

Outcomes you can expect:

  • A shared understanding among top leaders of the resources required for success in raising the largest gifts, and of the organizational culture required to support principal gift fundraising;
  • A specific and detailed action plan, designed to allow you and your colleagues to capitalize on your strengths and shore up areas of weakness, in six sections:
    • Culture of philanthropy
    • Identification of principal gift prospective donors
    • Establishment of principal gift fundraising objectives, including ideas that drive transformational giving
    • Allocation of resources, including assignment of responsibilities among staff members and organizational leaders
    • Engagement and stewardship
    • Ultimate gifts
  • A principal gift steering committee and staff prepared to implement and sustain effective principal gift fundraising.


“The Aspen Leadership Group worked with our board, our senior leadership team, and our staff to deepen how we think about creating philanthropic partnerships with our most committed supporters and champions. Applying the tenets of 'Belief and Confidence' and 'Raising Your Organization’s Largest Gifts,' we developed new conversations and advanced how we go about raising our leadership gifts. As a result, we have increased both the ambition and the engagement of our board members and internal leaders, secured larger gifts, and increased fundraising results overall.”

- Chris Street, Chief Development Officer, All Stars Project

“Raising the gifts required for achievement of an organization’s most ambitious goals requires board members and senior administrative leaders to understand how principal gift fundraising differs from other fundraising efforts and to have a shared understanding of how to build a culture that inspires these gifts. As a CEO, I have experienced first-hand the wisdom of Aspen Leadership Group’s advice.” 

- Jena Hausmann, CEO, Children’s Hospital Colorado 


For More Information, Contact:

Susan Faraone
Senior Consultant