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Embracing an Abundance Mindset in Major Gifts

When I stumbled into the nonprofit sector after grad school, I had lots of misconceptions about this work—especially about major gifts.


In particular, I thought major gifts were:

  • Primarily directed toward very large nonprofits

  • Mostly a matter of luck (not sure where this came from, but I’m being honest about my naivete!)

  • Gifts exclusively from the super-rich—not “regular” folks

  • Hard to anticipate

Now, after 25 years in the sector, I know that major gifts are generally the result of a well-documented process, good teamwork, a clear statement of gift impact, and shared values with donors.


I’ve also come to believe that one of the most important factors for success in major gifts is embracing an abundance mindset.




The concept of “abundance mindset” was popularized by Steven Covey (just like the Eisenhower matrix). Too many of us naturally gravitate toward a “scarcity mindset” – certain that there is not enough money, time, qualified staff, and other resources to allow our organizations to thrive.


Instead, we can choose to lean into the belief that there is enough and that it’s a matter of seeing the world differently. Appreciative Inquiry teaches us that “What we focus on becomes our reality. If we focus on what is wrong or what is missing, we tend to see everything through that filter or frame.” If we give our attention to scarcity and competition, that will become our reality. If we believe in abundance and collaboration, we’ll experience those truths.


Tips to foster an abundance mindset:

  • Be intentional. Adopting this mindset is a choice.

  • Cultivate a culture. It’s hard to maintain an abundance mindset by yourself. Find others who want to change their perspective. Encourage each other.

  • Take risks. Invest in infrastructure and staffing. Believe that your organization will attract resources if you are doing your best work and telling the story of your impact.

If you’re seeking more details about the nuts and bolts of major gifts work, check out my recent complimentary webinar—Building a Major Gifts Program: Six Elements for Success—hosted by Foundant. You’ll learn how to demystify major gifts and how they’re applicable to organizations of all sizes. You can also check out our new, free major gifts downloadable.


Open yourself to a new mindset, and see the abundance that follows.


Sunflower photo by todd kent on Unsplash.

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