The Importance of Being Authentic in Major Gifts Fundraising

Getting started in Major Gifts… better learn to golf!


Of course, if you like to play golf and it works for you, party on.

But for most people who didn’t play country club sports, you’re not at a disadvantage.

So many people told me I needed to learn to play golf when I started working in major gifts.

I didn’t hit a golf ball until my last year on the job and I really don’t think I missed out on much for several reasons…

  1. Most people that play golf frequently with their donors are the ones asking the donor.
  2. It’s a gigantic time commitment. (One time I played golf with someone for 4 hours; he was never interested in giving a gift.)
  3. I didn’t want to play golf!

This is the really important part of this post.

There’s an idea that we need to do whatever the donor wants.

This is just not true.

It was so easy for me to tell donors that I didn’t play golf.

No one cried.

They didn’t back out of their 6-figure commitments.

They didn’t call my mommy and ask why she raised me so poorly.

We moved on and had great visits in other ways.

I also don’t follow professional sports.

Somehow, I was able to have a career full of incredibly meaningful relationships.

The point of this post is not to recommend you play golf or not play golf with your donors.

The point is to be yourself and be honest with your donors.

The path to success is not identical for every fundraiser.

Focus on your path.


Kevin Fitzpatrick is the owner of One Visit Away, a consulting business helping leaders of nonprofits schedule more and better visits with their benefactors.  Kevin’s goal is to help fundraising professionals constantly seek to deepen their relationships with their benefactors.  After all, you’re just One Visit Away from growing your mission and your impact.  


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