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Keywords:

  • charities;
  • fundraising;
  • team-building;
  • major gifts

Major gift fundraising (MGF) is a crucial activity for large UK charities and is one that is normally undertaken by teams. This paper examines the criteria that the managements of large charities apply when selecting individuals to serve on MGF teams. It also explores possible connections between team composition and MGF success. A questionnaire exploring this matter was distributed to a sampling frame comprising 500 of the UK's largest fundraising charities, resulting in 151 replies. It emerged that MGF teams which contained people who had been chosen on the basis of their commitment to the MGF function, their communication and relationship nurturing abilities, and their wide-ranging connections throughout an organisation were reported to perform better than teams that were not deliberately assembled in this way. The more background research was completed into an MGF prospect's circumstances and preferences and the more diverse an MGF team's composition, the higher the probability of success. However, team size did not exert significant effects on performance nor did (i) the personal status of any of a team's members or (contrary to expectations) (ii) the inclusion of individuals who knew a prospect personally. Teams with members who possessed extensive experience of MGF did not perform substantially better than others. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.