Recently, I spent two days at the Major Gift Roundtable conducted by the Institute for Charitable Giving. I was honored to present on the topic of “Metrics Which Influence Major Gift Success.”

The Institute, celebrating 24 years of training major gift fundraisers from all over North America, was created and is run by Jerold and Felicity Panas.

What Matters to Major Gift Fundraisers

Having an entire ballroom filled with experienced and successful major gift fundraisers, my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to find out which activity KPIs (key performance indicators) they track, so I encouraged the group to create a monthly scorecard. The group indulged my suggested “stoplight” format:


The colors are based upon the following criteria:

  • Green = Achieving the target amount or higher
  • Yellow = Achieving at least 90% of the target
  • Red = Achieving below 90% of the target

Such color tracking allows areas needing further improvement to be pinpointed quickly.

Following the exercise, we reviewed the scorecards that had been created.

The most common metrics tracked by this group of major gift fundraisers were:

  • New prospects
  • Total prospects
  • Appointments set
  • Appointments kept
  • Site visits made
  • Referrals
  • Outgoing emails
  • Outgoing phone calls
  • Outgoing letters/notes
  • Gift proposal $s
  • Asks made
  • Gifts secured

Did we miss any that you and your team currently track?

The Most Important Metric in Achieving Success: “Asks Made”

panasBesides gift amounts secured, the only metric to appear on all scorecards was “Asks Made.”

This is not an accident!

Every small group in the workshop agreed that the best indicator of future major gift fundraising success was the number of “asks” being made during any time period. Indeed, the other metrics were important steps leading up to the “ask,” but did not signify ongoing success unless the “ask” was truly made.

If your major gift team doesn’t keep a scorecard or spreadsheet of their activities, encourage them to create one using some or all of the metrics listed above. After all, what gets measured gets done!

I hope this is a helpful resource for those of you just starting a major gift program, or those wanting to take your current major gift programs to even higher levels!

Major gift fundraising

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.