Article provided by Janna Finch, a nonprofit analyst at Software Advice where she reviews and writes buyer’s guides for nonprofit and fundraising software.

Research indicates that major donors (those that give $1 million or more) provide up to 75 percent of most nonprofits’ finances.

So my company, Software Advice–that reviews and compares fundraising and donor management software–sat down with Andrew Cope of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to see how they landed a $500 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg.

Andrew offered the following recommendations to help nonprofits secure major donors:

  • Do your homework: Make sure your prospect’s donation history aligns with your nonprofit’s goals to minimize the likelihood of rejection. Use resources such as Guidestar’s financial reports and IRS 990 forms to identify which boards the potential donor sits on and what professional associations they have.
  • Get prospects involved in the cause: Ask potential donors to join your nonprofit’s board or volunteer, so they can see firsthand the impact your organization is making. Thoughtfully choose the most fitting person from your organization to make the initial invitation.
  • Ask for an appropriate amount: Requesting an excessive or insufficient donation are both bad. Research how much the prospect has given to other groups in the past to guess the gift amount they are likely to donate. Be ready to give a detailed explanation of what your plans for the donation are, and the impact it should have.
  • Establish a relationship before asking: Get to know the donor personally so your request is communicated naturally out of a relationship. Take it as a positive sign if the prospect asks questions about the cause, seems interested in the results of your nonprofit’s activities and wants to meet those working on your projects.

What tactics have you employed to obtain significant donations?