A Proactive Fundraising Pyramid – Engaging the Base

03/02/2010 at 10:25 4 comments

You know, our faithful giving pyramid has stood the test of time. But maybe now it is time to rethink it.

I know, I know, change is hard – but give this some thought. The recent economic downturn has impacted our donors and our fundraising. Some donors were able to maintain their gifts, others had to stop giving and then some were able to continue giving but less than before.

I think we need look at the base of our pyramid more carefully and determine how best to engage these donors.

The base of our pyramid has always been the point of entry for donors. We react to their decisions about giving to us. We send an annual appeal, direct mail, invitation to an event, sell a raffle ticket and passively wait for them to respond. New donors may have come to us through the social media. We need to deliver our message in the medium most comfortable and appropriate to the donor. They become a part of our donorbase when they make a gift. Today your base may include loyal donors who continued their giving but at a lower level, online donors you may never meet as well as your traditional annual donor. The base of the pyramid is always important, now more than ever.

Let’s talk about how we can effectively engage these donors.The base of your pyramid includes many donors – and we owe it to them and our institutions to find out about them and their interests in order to gain great investment in our work. Take a look at these donors.

  • Have some given more than once in one year?
  • Have some become monthly donors?
  • What is the total of their annual giving?
  • How did they give to us, check, cash, online, via social media?

The theory of the giving pyramid says we don’t start treating them like major donors until they make a one-time gift of a certain amount. But what about their yearly giving – how much does that equal? Have you added that up? The way they gave is important as well.

I would contend that some donors at the base of our pyramids want, need and deserve some attention – especially in this economy when every nickel counts to us and them. After all isn’t that how we ask people to give more – a lot more? We talk to them, we determine their interests. Engage them in our cause according to their interests. And yes ask them for more money – move them up the pyramid.

In addition to focusing on those donors who make one time gifts of $500+, $1,000+ or whatever donation threshold you have designated as a “major gift”, take a look at your “annual donors” who have given more than once. Or be sure to select some donors at the top of the base and create special outreach plan to engage them.

Next blog post – How to employ staff effectively to engage donors at the base of the pyramid.

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Entry filed under: Fundraising. Tags: , , , , .

The Five I’s of Fundraising in the New Decade Reaching Donors at the Base of the Fundraising Pyramid

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa Musliner  |  12/02/2010 at 08:43

    I agree and want to read more of what you have to say.

    • 2. Barbara Talisman  |  12/02/2010 at 09:09

      Thanks for taking the time to read and respond Melissa! More good ideas percolating and will post next week. Be sure to subscribe!
      Have a great weekend!

  • […] A Proactive Fundraising Pyramid – Engaging the Base This is a great read on connecting with donors in your giving pyramid. It’s time to think outside the box!https://talismantol.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/fundraising-pyramid/#comment-289 […]

  • 4. Lori L. Jacobwith  |  04/02/2010 at 07:31

    Love this post. We have the opportunity, now, more than ever, to engage donors at all levels of the giving pyramid using electronic means. Sending an email to welcome NEW donors, sending a special message from the CEO of your organization to long-time donors, and even sending a special message to donors who didn’t give last year letting them know you welcome them back when they are ready and able to return are ways to pay attention in ways that will have your donors take notice.

    And don’t forget using the all important phone call. Utilizing the limited time of your board, key volunteers and even former board to reach out and make thank you phone calls to NEW donors or those who give more than once a year will have an impact far great than a simple thank you letter.

    We are in a time when making subtle changes like these can make a huge difference to the bottom line. I know. I’m seeing it happen with groups I work with.


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