The Major Gift Lockpicking Tool

“A gift opens the way to the giver and ushers the giver into the presence of the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

Lockpicking Lawyer is a fascinating YouTube content creator who opens “unpickable” locks. One viewer sent him a lock that his local locksmith had opened with an angle grinder. This sparked a heated debate as the viewer claimed the Lockpicking Lawyer could have picked it and the locksmith argued that his videos were bogus. So, they sent the lock with a challenge that if Lockpicking Lawyer could pick it faster than an angle grinder could cut it, the locksmith would refund $75 to the viewer. Challenge accepted. It took two minutes and fourteen seconds to cut the lock. Lockpicking Lawyer picked it in 28 seconds.

One frustrating reality for every fundraiser is the inability to open a major donor door. Every attempt to reach a prospect feels more difficult than breaking into Fort Knox. Solomon reveals that the key to connecting with any major donor prospect is to offer a gift.

A Personal Gift

Who doesn’t like to receive a gift? When choosing a gift, don’t default to SWAG (Stuff We All Get) that you hand out at a conference. Get more creative than pens emblazoned with your logo. Consider your prospect’s interests. What unique gift would your potential donor appreciate that reminds them of your ministry whenever they see it? Perhaps you could share something special from one of your noteworthy alumni.

An Opportunity Gift

Notice if your prospective donor has any special interest or expertise and invite them to share it. Perhaps your business prospect could give a workshop, teach a class, or be a guest speaker. One prospective donor has an interest in revolutionary war history and makes presentations dressed as George Washington. A savvy head of school has invited him several times to speak to the upper elementary classes. For this prospect, it is a gift to be invited to share his passion.

An Honor Gift

Pay attention and acknowledge news about your prospective donor. It could be as simple as sending a note of congratulations about their business success, job promotion, or personal accomplishment like a hole-in-one or being featured in the media. One college invites their prospective donors to a banquet in their honor and presents them with an award acknowledging their contributions to the community.

The Gift of Prayer

One simple way to make a meaningful connection is to offer to pray for your prospective donors. You may never have met that person but offering to pray may open a door for a future conversation. Perhaps they or a family member have experienced a personal tragedy and your offer to pray brings comfort and encouragement. Perhaps they’ve experienced great success and your prayers will remind them to give glory to God. The key is connecting with them spiritually.

Think About This: The greatest gift you could ever give your prospective donor is the gift of the good news. Perhaps you could share a book, music, or video from your ministry that includes a gospel presentation.

Response: Father, please give me wisdom to choose the best gift that will open major donor doors. Thank you for sharing the greatest gift, your Son, Jesus Christ.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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