Major Gifts – Getting Started

By David Rosner, Development Director, Surprise Lake Camp
As a graduate of the JCamp 180 GIFT program, I was excited to create a first Major Gifts program at Surprise Lake Camp, though with a modified case load.
I quickly became a big fan of the Veritus Group, as I found their materials (especially their White Papers) to be extremely helpful. While they are simple to follow, they are detailed and comprehensive in content.
This particular Veritus Group article packs an incredible amount of knowledge into 12 pages, kind of like how Seinfeld used to pack so many different story lines in a 30-minute episode. As a newbie to Major Gifts, one unique aspect compared to annual campaigns and more is just how specific and strategic plans must be for each and every person in your caseload. Just the administrative management for that task alone can be a huge challenge, one that I overcame with the Veritus Marketing Impact Chart (MIC), the components of which are explained in this article.
Our donors, alumni and friends are all so unique, with diverse backgrounds, interests, and expectations - we must meet them where they are. Getting to know them is a given, and qualifying them for your caseload is a must. But beyond those mandatory steps, the Veritus Group helped me understand the value in strategic planning, the impact a Major Gift program can have on our camp, and the tools needed to be successful. One aspect of this article that really stuck out to me - probably because I have worked at agencies that have done a poor job with it - is the critical importance of recording all of your moves and communications with each donor/prospect in your database. This is important for many reasons, yet it is very easy for organizations to skip that step!

While the overall process can be slow and methodical, and successes may not be as quick as you want, we at Surprise Lake Camp have become believers and hope and expect big results soon! I have my Veritus Group White Papers in a file, and refer to them often. There is always something new you will learn from their articles and sometimes they will even surprise you. For example, this article even suggests introducing your donors to another charity they would be interested in. Seriously! Read the article to find out why this may help your camp. 
If you are looking to start a Major Gifts program at your camp, visit - you will be happy you did.

Who we are: JCamp 180 is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF). Our goal is to significantly enhance the long-term effectiveness of nonprofit Jewish camps in North America. To meet this goal, we provide affiliated Jewish camps with consulting services, annual conferences, shared resources, professional development, and matching grant opportunities. Find more at