The fundraising pyramid is one of the most important visual aids at your disposal to help you understand how to find donors and major donors.
As a fundraiser, you have to manage three critical tasks: finding prospects, asking for donations, and increasing the number of your donors and major donors.
When I began to fundraise, I found juggling each of these tasks quite difficult. I’d focus on one and leave the other two to fall. For example, when I was running around to find new donors, I would forget to keep the donors that I had. So for every donor I found, I would lose one.
Another mistake was focusing my attention on building relationships with my current donors but forgetting to ask them for another, if not larger, donation. So I kept the donors I had but never got major donors.
The fundraising pyramid helps you keep your perspective on how fundraising works because you recognize 1.) the importance of volunteers, 2.) where regular donors come from and 3.) how to find major donors.
The Base of Pyramid: Volunteers / One-Off Donations
This group of people is most likely to be overlooked because their giving history is sporadic and typically less than what you wish to raise. On the upside, what I’ve learned is that they can be a great source of new donations.
Providing that you engage with them.
If your mission or charity is called to grow and thus requires more funding, you must enter a dialogue with the people around you. If you overlook nurturing the base of your fundraising pyramid, you may not be able to do all that you wish to realize your mission.
CCC 1879 – Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.
I make sure to keep in touch with these people on a very regular basis – once a week.
Middle of Pyramid: Regular Donors
As you just saw, regular donors come from the people from the bottom of the pyramid, but only if you take care of them.
CCC 1913 – “Participation” is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role.
By investing time and energy to this group of people, you will find donors because more people will have joined you. All you have to do is ask.
Major Donations – Top of Pyramid
The top of the pyramid is where most fundraisers want to spend their time and energy because it’s where the big wins are. I understand this logic because one donor at that level can make all the difference.
But your major donors come from the middle part of the pyramid. If you are not taking care of your current donors, you’re going to find it very challenging to acquire a large donation from someone else. As stated in our Catechism, solidarity deals more with the sharing of spiritual goods than material ones.
It’s not a one-way street where you can expect your donors to give you regularly but you don’t give anything back. Instead, you must make sure that you taking care of your donors spiritually – prayer, friendship, service, and dignity.
CCC 1948 – Solidarity is an eminently Christian virtue. It practices the sharing of spiritual goods even more than material ones.
We can logically conclude that to attain major donors you must also focus your attention on the entire fundraising pyramid.