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011: Major gifts fundraising: Overcome these four barriers to boost your income

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

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Major gifts activity should be a central component of any independent school's fundraising strategy. One of the key findings from the 2018 benchmarking report by The Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) and Graham-Pelton stated that: "for offices spending the majority of their time on major gift fundraising, average income is nearly 60% higher than what the average school raises".

Therefore, when conducted alongside engagement activities, legacy fundraising and regular giving, major gifts fundraising is a critical source of philanthropic income.

In this episode, I explore why major gifts fundraising is so important and identify four potential barriers that you might face when undertaking it. I outline the importance of not making assumptions and of building an understanding from your senior leadership team. I look at the systems you can put into place to ensure that the process of fundraising is both efficient and effective. Finally, I suggest some techniques and tips that will help you make time in your working day for major gifts fundraising.

My hope is that by implementing these techniques and by addressing these barriers, private schools can enhance their major gifts fundraising activity and increase their income.

Episode highlights

  • Why is focusing on major gifts fundraising so important? (03:25)

  • Four barriers to overcome:

  • 1. Not making assumptions (06:05)

  • 2. Building an understanding from your senior leadership team (09:15)

  • 3. Getting the right systems in place (10:40)

  • 4. Making time for major gifts fundraising on a day-to-day basis (14:50)

  • Recap (18:00)

References and resources

‘Reimagining your case for support’, The Independent School Podcast, episode 009

For tips on using market research techniques listen to ‘Navigating fundraising uncertainty’, The Independent School Podcast, episode 005

For help getting your head on board check out ‘Simple steps to solve three big fundraising challenges’, The Independent School Podcast, episode 007

Want to help your head or bursar understand the investment needed to build sustainable fundraising? Ask them to list to ‘Protecting your school’s fundraising income’, The Independent School Podcast, episode 003

Fundraising Focus Programme: Expert fundraising advice to fit your school's budget

Find out more about Juliet Corbett’s work with independent schools and discover a host of free resources for schools at


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