The NANOE Fundraiser Asks For Major Gifts – Louis Fawcett

Major Gifts Fundraiser

National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives approach to raising money is motivated by one goal: to achieve heroic missions of scale which change and save lives so completely, that money chases after them. Through the use of the Major Gifts Ramp-Up Model (which has been tested and refined for 28 years) nonprofit fundraisers focus on the needs of donors, not the needs of their organizations. By applying free market principles relating to product, marketing and sales, the NANOE fundraiser serves their donors in uncommon ways to unlock uncommon funding.

To be a NANOE fundraiser, you must approach every day with positive enthusiasm and relentless perseverance. The NANOE fundraiser believes the cause for which they seek funding will achieve significant impact and change the world.

Consider Christopher Columbus:

Columbus was convinced he could find a western route to Asia for the spice trade. For seven years, Columbus presented his case for support to Portugal, Genoa, Venice, France, England, and Spain. On multiple occasions, his proposal was referred to committee and on multiple occasions, rejected. Authorities believed the cost too high, his demands too ambitious, and his calculations flawed. Yet, truth never fears a challenge and Columbus persevered. He believed deeply in his case for support and he would stop at nothing to find an investor for his endeavor.

Upon being denied for the final time by Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus packed his bags to return home. While he was making preparations to depart, Luis de Santangel, a financial advisor to Isabella, intervened and convinced the Queen that the relatively small investment in Columbus’ endeavor could result in a substantial return to the Crown. Soon thereafter, Isabella and Ferdinand agreed to all of Columbus’ requests and the world changed…forever.


Columbus teaches us three key aspects regarding fundraising to achieve significant impact:

1. You must understand the needs of your donors and present a case that benefits them and helps them achieve their goals. Donors pay for the opportunity to invest in the transformation of a people. They spend their money to advance an issue and purchase a meaningful stake in your cause. You are not asking for a donation, you are presenting a proposal for investment to change and save lives.

2. You must relentlessly persevere in communicating your case for support in person to a select group of high net worth families who have an affinity for your work. You will not secure significant and lasting funding through social media, email or trendy fundraising activities. Rather, by investing deeply in a small number of face-to-face relationships with funders, you will secure the major gifts you need to scale your efforts.

3. You must follow through on your promises to deliver impact and steward the resources entrusted to your care. Your ability to fund your mission over the long term will be based not only on obtaining first gifts from donors, but on retaining them as major donors year after year. By reporting quantitative and qualitative results and describing areas for learning and improvement, donors will gain increased confidence in your organization’s ability to keep promises and deliver impact. Report the numbers and tell the stories – over and over again.

Nothing I am describing is magic, it is simply hard work. This means you must be willing to set aside all of the internal meetings, reports, conversations, newsletters, distractions, traditions, co-worker emails and worthless demands of those around you in order to focus on your donors.

Nothing else matters.

If you’re ready to be a true NANOE fundraiser ask yourself these six questions:

• Are you willing to run a bulldozer through your calendar to eliminate everything not directly relating to your top 100 major donors?
• Are you willing to stop going to the same meetings with staff and board members that achieve nothing?
• Are you willing to stop sitting in your comfortable office and instead, start going into your community to spend time with those who can invest in your mission?
• Are you willing to make the case to your CEO and Board that you will only spend time on relationships that can be monetized for your organization?
• Are you willing to end the silent auctions, golf tournaments, 5Ks, and entertainment galas that suck the life out of your staff and produce little net revenue?
• Are you willing to stop your pietistic thinking about the lofty nature of your nonprofit’s mission and start thinking about how you are going to serve your customers (donors) deeply and broadly?

Sales is simply the process of helping a person make a decision that is in their best interest. If you believe in the worthiness of your organization’s mission, there is no better decision a donor can make than to invest in the impact you are making in your community.

You need to internalize this:

• Your organization’s impact is your product.
• Your organization’s website, social media and email communication are your marketing tools.
• YOU are the salesperson for your organization.
• YOU are in charge of helping donors make decisions which are in their best interests.

Without sound products, robust marketing efforts and aggressive sales, businesses fail. If your nonprofit does not have these three key elements, you will fail.

Here is the bottom line: for every hour we waste on traditional methods of nonprofit management and fundraising, children die and families suffer. We have no more time to waste. We do not have the luxury of continuing the same outmoded practices that don’t work.

The time is now and we have been entrusted with this work. There is no greater calling.

Thank you for the work you are doing to improve your communities and our world. Thank you for working with me on the front lines of this battle. Thank you for your heart for those who need our help the most!

The NANOE Fundraiser Asks for Major Gifts was written by Reverend Louis Fawcett, who holds a BA from Randolph-Macon College and two Master Degrees from Wake Forest University and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He was privileged to Pastor three Lutheran congregations in Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. His service to the charitable sector began with his work at Christian World Foundation where he raised support for orphans in China, Russia and Ethiopia. During the 2008 recession, Louis led a successful campaign to build a children’s home in Ethiopia. Following the 2010 earthquake, Louis transitioned to Haiti Children, a charity serving destitute families and children in that island nation. In 2013, Louis accepted the position of Senior Vice President of Principal Gifts at EdVenture Children’s Museum where he forged collaborations with under-resourced communities by raising major gifts throughout South Carolina. He has served Central South Carolina Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) for seven years as both board member and president. He was honored in 2016 as AFP’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional.

To meet Louis and learn more about major gifts VISIT HERE to learn how you can attend a Major Gifts Ramp-Up Conference.


  1. Gideon A says:

    Thanks Louis,
    This article reinforces your lectures two days ago in Florida. Your presentations were eye opening to me.

  2. […] For more articles by Louis Fawcett VISIT HERE […]

  3. […] Fish Where the Big Fish Are. It’s obvious to anyone professionally involved in fundraising that it’s generally more cost-effective to raise money in big chunks than in little ones. A grant from an institutional funder or a significant gift from an individual major donor rarely comes at a high cost of fundraising. And anyone who’s attended even one fundraising conference or workshop has surely become acquainted with the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, which teaches us that a relatively small number of more generous donors account for the lion’s share of the net philanthropic revenue our organizations receive. All of this points to the wisdom of focusing more time, effort, and money on generous and responsive donors and less effort on less productive ones. […]

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