What Size Gift?

The size of the donor’s gift is as individual as any other choice they make. Assuming one size fits all makes appeals easier but makes fundraising less effective and efficient.

Consider this story.

After a nonprofit fundraising event, the attendees are sent a “thank you” note followed about 6 weeks later by an appeal for a $25 gift. As a result, 25% respond with a gift. Some provide a gift of $25 and others are more generous and send in gifts of $35, $50, $100, and $250 as well as one $500 gift.

In a few months, there is a temptation to send the 25% who responded another appeal. Great idea! What size gift should you suggest?

The answer is, “It depends.”

For the people who responded with a $25 gift, a smaller gift, or no gift, another $25 request makes sense. After three of these appeals and a consistent “no-gift” response, you can drop them from the list. Why take the chance of annoying them? They probably care more about other causes. They may have only attended because a friend invited them.

For those who responded with a gift greater than $25 send them an appeal for the same amount as their previous gift. Why offer them the opportunity to give less than they did before? Yes, they might only be able to afford a smaller gift but they care about the mission. Let them decide what size gift is appropriate, but also show them that you are aware of their previous generosity and hope it will continue. If you only ask for $25, you risk sending a message that you only need $25. Another risk is that the donor might think, “If they are going to make periodic $25 appeals, I should budget for $25 periodically.” It would be better for them perceive the same message but budget $50, $100, or $250 periodically.

If you are like many of our clients, when someone sends in a $500 gift he or she is considered a significant donor. Anyone who is a significant donor deserves a personal visit.

It is more work and more expense to customize the appeal. It is also more efficient and more effective. You will collect more money with less effort. In addition, about a year after the first gift, you can increase the amount in your appeal letter by 10% or $25 or some other increment. You will be pleasantly surprised by the donor’s generosity.

Next Step:

Carefully monitor your initial appeal to prospective donors

Tailor the second appeal to new donors based upon their initial response

Increase the amount of your appeal to each donor annually based upon their history of giving

Sustainability depends on having a funding stream that grows faster than the needs of the mission. Cultivating donor generosity is one of the important steps in creating a sustainable funding stream. It is also an important part of ensuring that the fundraising income grows fast enough to support the growing demands of the clients and the mission.

Use the preceding process after your next fundraising event and you will realize it is worth the extra effort.

As always, contact Mission Enablers if you want help. We use a special process that offers a guarantee. For more information about our process and guarantee, you can click here.

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