Overcome common major donor challenges

Philanthropists and major donors can be a significant source of income for nonprofits, but working with them can be challenging. Philanthropists may be used to high levels of service and donor stewardship; they may want detailed information about the impacts of your work, sometimes in a hurry; they may be hard to reach. Your colleagues may raise questions about the ethics of working with certain individuals and you will face personal challenges in finding major donors, contacting them, and cultivating strong enough relationships that they will support your cause.

This masterclass will give you the foundations to start building your major donor programme, help you understand why and how major donors give, and what they might ask of you and your organisation. The session will focus on the three key relationships you need to make major donor fundraising work and you’ll be introduced to tools and techniques that will make your programme a success and a joy.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the profile, needs, and backgrounds of different types of philanthropists
  • Learn useful techniques to find potential major donors and manage your relationship with them
  • Learn how to get to that first meeting – and what to say and do there
  • Find out how to use your natural strengths to inspire and engage philanthropists
  • Understand the ethics of being a major donor fundraiser
  • Get the tools to educate your board and management on major donor fundraising


This masterclass will be led by Chris Carnie and Elsbeth Takkenberg, both active and experienced major donor fundraisers and researchers.

Chris works with international organisations to help them identify and understand philanthropists and to develop strategies for major donor programmes. Chris is the author of How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe and lectures in fundraising at the University of Barcelona.

Elsbeth is a hands-on major donor fundraiser with years of experience in INGO, cultural sector, and hospital fundraising, working on major donor fundraising and legacies. Elsbeth trains and coaches young relationship managers and international fundraising teams and has extensive experienced building long lasting relationships between donor and organisations.

This masterclass will be held twice to support fundraisers in different time zones.

19 June • 08.00 BST | 09.00 CEST/CAT | 12.30 IST | 17.00 AEST | 19.00 NZT

20 June • 07.00 PDT | EDT 10.00 | 15.00 BST | 16.00 CEST/CAT