September 19, 2023

7 FAQ about Unsolicited Major & Mega Gift Donors & Funders

1. Who are unsolicited major gift donors and funders?  

They’re nonprofit investors—individuals, foundations, government agencies, and corporations, who surprise you by reaching out to make significant investments. These investors vet you without your knowledge.

2. How do you define an unsolicited mega or windfall?

“a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a large amount of money.”

Windfalls gifts:

·       Are 10x what you’d consider a major gift

·       Come from a donor or funder with whom you have little or no relationship

·       Require less labor to close than typical donations

3. How do nonprofit investors pick nonprofits?

They seek nonprofit investment opportunities to fit their criteria and needs—for example, a donor desires to make an informed gift to create change. Or a foundation aims to invest in quality work, and you fit their criteria. Or a government agency with a spending deadline. You’ve done good work in the past with them, and they picked because they don’t want to lose the money.

 4. How do they narrow their options?

A nonprofit’s mission is a starting point. However, since investors can almost always find a handful of entities to invest in, something or things are at play. Your work and reputation attract them.

5. What’s the top challenge for nonprofit execs?

You may never know if you’re attracting them or turning them off. You get the call, or you don’t. It’s hard to discover if something easy would have made you the one.

However, research shows that patterns exist that nonprofits who don’t get these gifts can replicate to improve opportunities.

6. How does thinking about investors help nonprofits—even if you don’t secure a windfall?

We know that lots of nonprofit supporters conduct research. The statistics are unclear about how many—one source said less than 3 percent, a second claimed 33. Given that we look up everything, it’s logical your potential supporters of all gift sizes check you out before spending.

7. Should we stop our revenue development work and focus on unsolicited major gifts and windfalls?

No. Instead, flip your fundraising on its head–instead of just seeking revenue, consider how you attract it 24-7. Because it is so fundamentally different from development and advancement, this is work best done by the exec team –at least to start.

The Backstory

Windfall and unsolicited major gifts and grants are just luck, right? That’s what the sector believes. To get them, you must have the correct mission and stand in the right place at the right time.

A combination totally out of a nonprofit’s control, right?


Data reveals that our story about these gifts was just that- a story. (For more about the data.) Funded nonprofits share many characteristics. They stem from the correct mission and actions that standout nonprofits do—some are easy, others complex and nuanced.

In either case, that’s good news for nonprofit execs. Sporadic unsolicited major gifts and even windfalls brighten the way and bolster—sometimes in a big way—nonprofit work.


You don’t have to figure this out by yourself. For nonprofits that qualify, we offer Quick Impressions Analysis and Careful Look (as part of our advising service.)

Or follow this link to discover more about unsolicited major gifts.

Have you received an unsolicited major gift or windfall? Please share your experience with Karen.


You can keep up with me. Subscribe to my newsletter, Karen’s CEO Solutions

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


If you appreciate these Added Value posts, please consider subscribing.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Karen Eber Davis Consulting. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Posts