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Major Gifts: When to Ask Someone to Stop and Think

Major Gifts: When to Ask Someone to Stop and Think

March 2, 2020

“Remember, there are four types of no, and only one of them is permanent. The others are not now, but maybe later; no to this amount; and no to this project.” – Bill Sturtevant

Making a major gift ask is a crucial moment for any nonprofit. In this episode of The Beacon Podcast, fundraising consultant, author, speaker and major gift expert Bill Sturtevant shares the most effective ways to cultivate potential major donors and how to make the ask. In his conversation with Jeff, he explains:

  • His experience working with Jerry Panas and his legacy
  • Effective methods for cultivating major donors
  • The importance of getting others engaged in cultivation
  • Determining when to make the ask
  • Making the ask

About our guest

William T. Sturtevant is a specialist in major and deferred gift philanthropy who has successfully practiced the craft for over 30 years. His special niche is developing and implementing strategies for the cultivation and solicitation of major donors. He is also frequently called upon to assist with complex and unique gift scenarios.

Bill was senior principal gifts consultant at the University of Illinois Foundation, a position that guided relationships with individuals and families capable of gifts at a level of $5 million and above, until his retirement in 2013 after 33 years of service. He now devotes his time to his fundraising consulting and training practice, Sturtevant Fundraising. From 1980 until 2004 he served as vice president for planned giving and trust relations at the foundation and built what is considered by many to be one of the nation’s preeminent gift planning programs. Mr. Sturtevant arrived at the University of Illinois at the onset of its first fund drive. He was responsible for the strategy for and the solicitation of a significant number of major gifts in that campaign. He also played a central role in the university’s next campaigns, which raised over $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion respectively.

During his years at Illinois, he was directly involved with over $600 million in major gifts, and during the university’s recently completed campaign the Principal Gifts Office guided the effort to secure 65 gifts of $5 million or more plus numerous major gifts below that level.

Bill is a nationally recognized specialist in major and deferred gifts and planning and solicitation strategies. He earned the Certified Financial Planner designation in 1984 and regularly assists a variety of charitable organizations with complicated or unusual gift situations. He has been listed in Who’s Who, and in 1995 he was honored as Planned Giving Professional of The Year by Planned Giving Today. In January 2014, he was named the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the East Central Illinois AFP Chapter.

His seminars and presentations are extremely popular, and he is a frequent speaker before development professionals, hospital groups and civic organizations. He is author of the best-selling book, The Artful Journey: Cultivating and Soliciting the Major Gift, which was published in 1997 and revised and expanded in 2004. He is co-author of the Moves Management Manual, which was published in 2012.

Bill is a member of the boards of the Sirazi Foundation and the Lauritzen Family Foundation. He is also a member of the board of the First Busey Trust & Investment Co. He is a founding director of the Institute For Charitable Giving. A teacher as well as a doer, he is rigorous in his pursuit of professionalism in fundraising and committed to the highest ethical standards. His guiding tenet is that dedication to the best interest of our donors is the only way to achieve the objectives of the charitable organizations we serve.