Major Gift Plan For Fundraising

Here is a guest article by Bob Martin, Assistant vice Chancellor for Development at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on developing your Major Gift Plan campaign. This is some great advice that applies to many donor planning and management tasks.

Utilizing a Prospect Management System

Summary analysis of the major gifts plan:

1) The major gifts program is ongoing and follows the strategic plan of the entire organization.
2) The Development office supports the mission and enhances the vision by obtaining the private financial resources to strengthen
the programs of the organization and by developing, managing, and enhancing relationships with alumni and friends.

Case for major gifts support program:

The major gifts program at the University is aimed at strengthening support in key areas:

  • Faculty – through endowed chairs, professorships and faculty development programs
  • Students – through undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships
  • Libraries – for books, special collections and technological needs
  • Academic programs – to enhance research opportunities, replace and upgrade technical equipment and to meet emerging needs


The staff consists of key campus leadership and support systems. All fund raising costs are covered by state appropriations.

Campus support:

For certain levels of prospect ability the Chancellor,($100,000 and up), and Deans ($50,000 and up) are part of the Development

Some colleges have strong Development Committees. Members of these committees will assist on certain calls above $100,000.

Prospect Management:

The University uses the moves management process to manage its major gifts prospects. One member of each campus development
team coordinates this process for their campus. Each development director is responsible for 100 prospects.

These prospects must have been researched by the system research staff and have a minimum gift potential of $25,000.

It is strongly encouraged that the majority of the prospect portfolio be in the six-figure and up range.

The 100 major gift prospects are typically divided as such:

  • Sixty A-prospects – being cultivated to ask for a gift within 12 months.
  • Thirty B-prospects – cultivated for a possible ask within 18 to 24 months.
  • Ten suspects – new prospects that have been identified through the screening process, but have not shown significant interest
    in the university to date.

Each major gifts development director must meet the following minimum performance requirements annually:

  • 120 meaningful prospect visits annually (meaningful is defined to mean moving the donor towards a gift)
  • 250+ personal contacts with major gifts donors each year
  • Total Gifts closed range beginning at $1 million for each
  • Identify and contact 10 new major gifts prospects each year
  • Keep top 50 prospects informed, interested and involved with
    a minimum of five contacts each year

Prospect Management Database

Prospect contact reports are done in a prospect management database. This system can be accessed from the web for the
traveling Development Director.

It contains a variety of information on all prospects such as:

  • all contact reports
  • reason for and result of each contact
  • type of contact such as visit, phone, letter, email, etc.
  • name, address, phone, email, spouse
  • giving history, including gifts and pledges
  • degree information on alumni
  • whom the prospect is assigned to
  • place of employment and job title
  • if they are an A prospect, B prospect or a suspect at this time
  • where the prospect is in the cultivation stage: introduction,
    cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship
  • the stage of proposal development (strategy, proposal development,
    proposal delivery and proposal follow-up).

Prospect Management Reports

This system also produces a variety of reports to benefit the major gifts director and the prospect manager: monthly summary
or detailed contact reports, summary and activity of all assigned prospects during chosen time periods and much more.

These reports are used in individual Development Director meetings with the Assistant Vice Chancellor to discuss where
they are in the cultivation and solicitation stage with their assigned prospects.

Information regarding what proposals have been delivered, those pending and when they expect to close on these pending
proposals (their follow-up strategies) are also documented on this system.

Ongoing Reviews

We will also review the prospect visit schedule for the upcoming month. When a development director travels the
research coordinator is also responsible for giving them names of other suspects or prospects to call on when in the area.

Each year all major gifts directors must review their prospect list with the Assistant Vice-Chancellor and research coordinator
to report on current prospects and request new ones.

The Key to Successful Fundraising

After all the planning and prospect research is completed, remember that the key to successful fundraising is quality
face-to-face visits with our donors

For more information, please contact:

Bob Martin
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Development
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Dept. 6806
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403-2598
(423) 425-4233 fax (423) 425-4012