Major Donor Development

Challenge: Developing major donors that will contribute 80% of funds

If you are involved in a major fundraising initiative you will be aware that significant lead donations will be essential to your success. Tarnside’s experience indicates that, in successful campaigns 80% of funds come from fewer than 20% of your donors. From the beginning of your campaign, the challenge will be to identify and focus on these key individuals who can make a difference.

Key Questions to Ask

  • How can you identify those funders who have the capacity to become major donors?
  • Which of these will have the propensity to become a major donor?
  • How can you approach them for the greatest chance of success?
  • How can you encourage donors to give at the top end of their scale?
  • How can you assess, for each individual you are courting, their true level of involvement with your cause?
  • Who will be your champions and advocates?
  • How will you match the right champion to the right funder?

Solution: Tarnside Major Donor Development

Tarnside specialises in supporting the effective development of major donors.

Tarnside will work with you to generate and implement a strategy for major donor development, and ensure that you develop the core skills required to see this strategy through to success.

Benefits of Major Donor Development

  • Developing a core of committed major donors will provide a significant impact on the ‘current’ appeal;
  • Nurturing this group will then help set the organisation up for future financial success;
  • And they will help grow influential networks by becoming advocates of your cause.

Major Donor Development

A Tarnside Major Donor Development Programme involves the identification of networks of significant and influential individuals who can be recruited to the cause. If you find you do not have the experience or the capacity to approach the challenges this presents alone, Tarnside will:

  • Guide you through the process;
  • Help you gain the essential skills required; and
  • Support you in putting them into practice.

Core Skills

  1. Networking – essential for turning identified prospective donors into interested and engaged individuals.
  2. Animation – setting up situations where prospective donors can not only commit funds directly but can also become advocates and champions who bring in other donors through their own networks and influence.


Three key principles that Tarnside will bring to your organisation:

  1. A strategic approach to the campaign needs to be adopted.
  2. Growing involvement achieved through personal contact is a prerequisite for giving.
  3. People give to people, but they must be the right people. Potential funders must be approached by a carefully selected champion who they will respect.

Tarnside’s approach is based around our Tarnside Curve of Involvement model (illustrated above). Donors with greater levels of involvement will give you larger sums. The model provides a gauge for the level of involvement an individual has with a cause and thus a base from which to develop their potential as champion, advocate or donor.


  • A strategic approach which gives you confidence while learning new skills
  • Key individuals will be seen to commit more personal and financial resources as they become more involved in the cause.
  • Sustainability. You and your team will be ready to apply the principles learned to future fundraising.