I often talk with non-profit fundraisers who say things like, “we need to raise an extra $50,000 this year, so we’re adding an event.” Or, “our budget increased by $72,000 this year, so we’re going to run an online giving campaign.”
These ideas may or may not be the right way to go, depending on the organization. I have noticed, however, that many development directors and board members don’t seem to grasp how many donors and gifts it takes to raise large amounts for their non-profit.
The number of donors required to raise your goal is a key consideration in figuring out the right fundraising strategy for your organization. That’s why I decided to put together this simple chart to illustrate the relationship:
# of Donors Required to Raise $100,000
Gift Size # of Donors Required
What does this mean for your non-profit? It means that if you need to raise $100,000 and you plan to do it through a tactic that will result in an average donation of $100 per donor, you will need to find 1,000 donors in order to meet your goal.
Which types of strategies will result in gift sizes like those in the above chart? It differs for every non-profit, so you’ll need to rely on your own data. However, as a general rule for most organizations:
- Major donor fundraising will bring in $100,000 or $10,000 gifts, and require lots of in-person meetings, phone calls, and cultivation
- Mid-level fundraising and donor clubs will bring in $1,000 gifts, and require a mix of meetings, calls, letters, and other fundraising tactics
- Events (and sometimes online fundraising or mailed appeals, depending on the organization) will bring in $100 gifts
- Online fundraising and direct mail will bring in $10 gifts
Your Numbers Will Vary – Use Past Data Giving to Make a Wise Decision
Of course, the data for your non-profit will vary from this simple list. Your organization may average $35 per donor on direct mail appeals, or $500 per donor on your events. Dig into your donor database to figure out what your average donations are for each category of fundraising… then use that data to make a decision about your future fundraising activities. Don’t assume that a particular tactic will raise more per donor this time out than it has in the past.
Use your data points to make a wise decision on how to meet your fundraising goals by consulting the chart above. If you need to raise $100,000 more this year, and you are planning to do so by using a tactic that normally results in an average gift of $100 per donor, then you will need to find 1,000 donors to give through that tactic.
Also, note that for many of your fundraising campaigns, you’ll be using a mix of fundraising strategies to reach your goal. Thus, if you need to raise $100,000 more this year than last year, you may decide to do so through a mix of major donors, events, and online giving.
Remember, too, that each fundraising tactic has a different cost in terms of money, time and resources. Be sure to take that into account as you plan your fundraising strategy.
Photo Credit: Pictures of Money
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