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Expanding the Giving Pyramid

There’s a well-known concept in fundraising called the Giving Pyramid (also known as the Fundraising Pyramid, or the Campaign Pyramid). For those not familiar, this pyramid is a strategy tool that helps plan how your nonprofit will achieve a fundraising goal.

For instance, in the purple area of pyramid to the right, a yearly strategy might be based on very large principle gifts and bequests ($100k) from a few donors at the top of the pyramid. Then comes more donors adding major gifts ($5k-$100k), followed by even more annual givers ($100-$5000). At the base are the many occasional givers and event participants – those who give from $10-$100 once or twice a year. The gift levels and supporter labels may change, but the concept does not – to forecast where the money is coming from to meet your goal, segment your potential donors into expected levels of giving, based on giving history.

Generally speaking, the top three tiers of this pyramid require traditional development efforts – calling a donor, meeting with them, sending personal emails, letters or mailings. But with the advent of peer-to-peer online social network fundraising, you have the opportunity to recruit your committed supporters from all levels to work for your cause as surrogate fundraisers. And if you give them the proper tools and guidance you can greatly expand the size and base of your pyramid, as illustrated by the red outer areas of the pyramid.

How so? By giving your existing donors, board members, volunteers and staff access to personal fundraising pages, such as DonorPages, you make it so much easier for them to promote your organization, event and cause to their friends, family and peers. DonorPages provides your supporters with a web URL that they can send to everyone in their email contact list. And, because their web page can collect credit card donations, they don’t have to bother with paper checks and cash. These features alone make fundraising for your cause more ‘painless’, and will increase your results.

But the real power and value of personal, peer-to-peer Web 2.0 online fundraising is this: when your committed supporters tell your story to people who know and trust them, a donation is far more likely to be the result. As covered in a previous post, your supporter is the message. In other words, not only are you training your committed supporters to be fundraisers, but each of your supporters will have anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of personal contacts, all of whom are much more likely influenced by your supporter than by your organization’s website. People give to people more than they give to institutions.

This is no pyramid scheme. It works. So I highly encourage you to give your supporters the tools they need to be true fundraisers, working to fund your cause.

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