Major Gift Solicitation Strategies

Empowering Fundraising Professionals

The most effective and efficient way to raise money from individuals — the source of nearly 90 percent of the charitable contributions made in the United States — has always been through personal, face-to-face solicitation. In today’s interconnected environment, where many rely on technology to deliver their messages, the personal approach is more important than ever.

In this highly interactive program, guided by our expert academic and practitioner faculty, you’ll explore the fundamentals and processes of a successful major gift solicitation strategy, examine your own leadership strengths and practice applying the science of persuasion and the art of storytelling. Participants in this program will be able to conduct successful major gift solicitations and implement a major gift program immediately after participating in this program.

Center for Nonprofit Management

Learn to apply a personal touch to your gift solicitation strategy


Who Should Attend

  • New and experienced major gift officers
  • CEOs and executive directors of nonprofit organizations
  • Board members of nonprofit organizations
  • Team members with development responsibilities at nonprofit organizations who want to learn more and/or become major gift officers
  • Administrative professionals who support the major gift solicitation process

Key Benefits

  • A broad understanding of philanthropy today, specifically the state of major gift solicitation
  • The opportunity to craft a personal and professional introduction for major gift solicitation visit
  • New knowledge and deeper understanding of the keys to successful major gift solicitation
  • A detailed overview of the major gift solicitation process from identification to cultivation to solicitation to stewardship and follow-up
  • A detailed step-by-step guide to major gift solicitation visit "best practices"

Program Content

Trends in Major Gift Solicitation

  • Review of the current climate in major gift solicitation
  • Take a brief look at current data

Optimize Your Fundraising Potential - The "Do It Yourself" Development Audit & Assessment

  • Learn the key components of the ideal development operation and the fundamentals of fundraising success
  • Based on this framework and fundamentals, begin to answer the assessment questions which will help advance your operation
  • Determine your readiness for an eventual capital campaign
  • Inform your development plan for the next three to five years

First Person StoryWorks

  • Understand the key elements of a story, and how storytelling is distinct from traditional forms of organizational communication
  • Learn how to use elements of storytelling to make your messages compelling, memorable and trustworthy
  • Distinguish among different types of story forms and learn how to apply them
  • Develop an "ear for stories" - from your own organization as well as from donors and other stakeholders
  • Gain hands-on experience crafting and telling a story to advance your development work

The Essentials of a Successful Major Gift Solicitation Program

  • Developing and presenting a clear case for support/investment
  • Propsects
  • Organizational and board leadership
  • Creating a climate for giving and a culture of philanthropy

Understanding the Major Gift Solicitation System

  • Setting visits and meetings
  • Visit benchmarks
  • Before and after the visit
  • Tracking commitment, pending decisions
  • Acknowledgement and stewardship

The Anatomy of a Best Practices Major Gift Solicitation Strategy

  • Strategy/preparation
  • Breaking the ice
  • Setting the agenda
  • Presenting the case
  • Asking questions
  • Asking for the gift/investment and the art of "closing"
  • Follow-up, next steps


Elise Madrick Townsend - Academic Director; Senior Program Administrator

Diane Kastiel - First Person Live

Leo Latz - Senior Partner, Latz & Company

David Lively - Associate Vice President and Campaign Manager, ‘We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern’

Liz Livingston Howard - Clinical Professor of Management; Director of Nonprofit Executive Education

Brian Murphy - Managing Partner, Latz & Company

Accommodations, Fees & Policies


Nonprofit Management Programs are held at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus.

Wieboldt Hall
340 East Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Chicago Campus Parking Map - Please Note: the Huron Superior Parking A lot and the Erie Ontario Parking C & D lots are available to the public and should be used when attending programs at Wieboldt Hall.

Application Deadline

The deadline for registration is 10:00 am one business day prior to the program start date.

Scholarship Assistance

Up to 50% scholarships are available for all of our nonprofit executive education programs for those working in nonprofit organizations. All applications are initially submitted at the full list price. Each is reviewed by our registrar and any scholarships granted will be reflected in the amount applied to your invoice or charged to your credit card.

Hospitality during the Program

We strive to provide healthy meal choices for our participants for breakfast, lunch and breaks. We typically provide a range of choices, including some vegetarian-friendly and gluten-avoidant selections. We cannot meet all dietary preferences, but we will do our best to accommodate health restrictions, religious restrictions and food allergies.


Participants are responsible for booking their hotel accommodations during their stay.

Download Nearby Hotels List

Cancellation Policy:

Participants must notify the Program Manager five business days in advance of the program start date if they are unable to attend. Otherwise, participants will be charged 20% of the stated program fees.

When canceling a program registration, participants may choose to rollover their payment to a future program or receive a refund. Participants are allowed three rollovers, after the third rollover, participants forfeit the money paid to the Center for Nonprofit Management.

*Refund or rollover must be requested at the time of the program cancellation. Once a program payment has been rolled over, a monetary refund is no longer an option. The participant must continue with the rollover process.

Approved By CFRE


Full participation in this Kellogg Nonprofit Executive Education program entitles you to 14 points in Category 1.B—Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

Note: Participants who wish to apply for continuing education points on their CFRE application for initial certification and/or recertification will be able to access a tracking form on the course site, once they register for the program.

Learn More

Please email or call us if you would like additional information about Nonprofit Programs

2020 Session

November 4-5, 2020

Start: November 4 at 8:30 AM

End: November 5 at 5:00 PM

Chicago Campus


Scholarships Available

2021 Sessions

March 11-12, 2021

Start: March 11 at 8:30 AM

End: March 12 at 5:00 PM

Chicago campus


Scholarships Available

September 23-24, 2021

Start: September 23 at 8:30 AM

End: September 24 at 5:00 PM

Chicago Campus


Scholarships Available

Kellogg School of Management

James L. Allen Center
2169 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208