As the year comes to a close many nonprofits are looking at their fundraising goals and asking an important question: should we focus on securing a large number of small gifts, or a few large ones? We believe the answer is “both.”
Here are three things to consider.
- Securing many small gifts often takes as much energy as securing a few large gifts. Much of the work is similar: define your case; agree on an ask amount or range; define your pool of prospective donors; determine the right method or approach. Most importantly “make the ask” and say thank you quickly when gifts are received. The difference between the two strategies often depends on a nonprofit’s fundraising history. Some have a history of securing large gifts. Others have built a cadre of fundraising volunteers, each of whom host parties or solicit gifts from individuals. Still others have a strong direct mail and/or on-line campaign. Incorporating a new fundraising strategy often takes time, and given the shortage of time it makes sense to use the method that works best for your nonprofit.
- Continuing to ask your donors for a small gift may mean you lose out on a larger gift. When asked why they decided to make a larger gift many donors respond, “because I was asked.” If you have been running a direct mail campaign for years you should have data you can review. Are there individuals who consistently give year-after-year? Do you know them? Should you consider a personal letter asking for a larger gift? Better yet, who within your board, staff or volunteer pool knows your consistent donors? Could a personal ask be made for a larger gift?
- Consider testing a fundraising appeal asking for a gift of $25 to $100. Depending on a few trusted donors to make larger gifts can be efficient in terms of time and resources. Yet there’s a built-in danger with that dependence: what happens as donors’ priorities change? How are you growing a pool of donors who may increase their giving over time? Now could be the time to take a small, calculated risk in trying something new. In addition to personally asking larger donors for a gift, craft a direct mail or personal letter to send to those who have volunteered or attended one of your events. Or test a small social media campaign.
Bottom line, securing large gifts help you meet your current goal; small gifts help build a base of donors from which to grow and sustain in future years. Take a risk, ask for gifts both large and small.
Copyright 2015– Mel and Pearl Shaw
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad&Shaw. They serve the nation’s nonprofits. For help with your fundraising visit www.saadandshaw.com or call (901) 522-8727.
Image courtesy of 123rf.com.