[NPFX Ep. 20] Major Gift Fundraising (with Nuka Solomon and Shanelle Varone)

nonprofit fundraising nonprofit strategy podcast tips and resources

Welcome to The Nonprofit Fundraising Exchange, a podcast from IPM Advancement. Our mission is to help you raise more money so you can make the world a better place.

Today’s topic: Major Gift Fundraising

Most nonprofits rely on a small percentage of their donors to provide the majority of their funds. As the wealth gap in the United States grows wider, it’s very likely that the importance of these major donors will only increase in the years to come. In today’s podcast episode, we’ve assembled a panel of major gift fundraising experts to discuss what it takes for a nonprofit to create and sustain a rewarding major gift fundraising program.

Time-Stamped Episode Shortcuts:

  • Introductions [2:26]
  • How major gift fundraising differs from annual fundraising [5:46]
  • Why major gift fundraising is important to the nonprofit and to the donor [8:06]
  • How small nonprofits can start building major donor relationships [10:47]
  • Understanding the profile of the major donor [14:45]
  • Tips for cultivating and stewarding major donors [18:26]
  • Stories of successful major donor relationships [21:02]
  • How to make asking for major gifts feel comfortable and effortless [24:55]
  • What COVID-19 taught us about using virtual communication for major gift fundraising [29:50]
  • Maintaining a good relationship with your major donors [33:40]
  • Applying feasibility study strategies to major gift fundraising [37:30]

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Rich Frazier has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years. In his role as senior consultant with IPM Advancement, Rich offers extensive understanding and knowledge in major gifts program management, fund development, strategic planning, and board of directors development.

Elizabeth Silverstein has served the not-for-profit sector for more than 35 years, specializing in transformational giving, vision casting, inspiring boards, and building passionate, effective teams. Beth has been instrumental in cultivating major gifts for capital campaigns in healthcare, two presidential libraries, higher education, K-12 independent schools, and social service organizations.

Nuka Solomon joined Free Wheelchair Mission as Executive Director in 2017 and was appointed CEO in 2019. She has extensive experience in nonprofit fund development and operations, corporate giving, as well as mass and major donor event fundraising. She graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in studio art.

Shanelle Varone, the Senior Administrative Director of Philanthropy for Children’s Mercy Hospital, leads a team of frontline gift officers who are responsible for raising money from generous individuals, corporations, and foundations to fulfill the hospital’s mission. Shanelle has 20 years of fundraising experience and has spent her entire career in social service.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

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