Like a Dog with a Bone

At this time of year, a good fundraiser is like a dog with a bone. She’s sunk her teeth into the organization’s fundraising goal and she’s unwilling to let go.

And with good reason.  There are still things you can do to make your goals.  Don’t give up on your goal or on yourself. There are 5 and ½ weeks left in the year.  If you haven’t yet met your fundraising goals for the year – It’s not too late! 

First, calculate what you still need to raise. How much more do you have to raise this year to meet goal? How short are you projecting that you will be when your fundraising appeal finishes coming in? Take that number and plug it into a gift range chart.  Blackbaud has a great one online.  Just type in an amount and it returns for you—no calculations necessary—how many gifts you need to reach your goal.

There are many great things about a gift range chart.  Among them, it reminds us that 100 small gifts won’t get us to our goal. The gift range chart reminds us that most of the time, about 80% of our gifts come from 20% of our donors (and, conversely, that 80% of our donors only contribute about 20% of the money).  In actuality, most gift range charts are constructed around a 70-30% split, but the 80-20 rule is so well-known, I just tend to think of a gift range chart as following that general idea.

I always find a gift range chart to be very motivating because it breaks the steps to the goal down and makes the goal seem more manageable.

So if you’re still looking at $100,000 shortfall, you can see that you need to solicit one $10,000 gift, one $7,500 gift, and 2 $5,000 gifts.  At the highest levels of your gift chart, you usually need 4 or 5 prospects for every 1 gift needed and at the bottom of the chart, you typically need more like 3 prospects for every gift.  You need to take a look at your database and see who your prospects are that can make a $10,000 gift.  Can you identify 2-4 possibilities? 

Then, start at the top of the chart and work your way down.  If you have lots of gifts to secure, enlist help from appropriate staff members and volunteers like board members. If you look at the gift range chart and can’t find prospects for some of the highest levels, adjust the chart.  Don’t be a slave to it.  Let it guide you, not tyrannize you. 

I know that you are trying to do so many things this time of year—thank you notes (lots of them!), sending holiday cards to donors, attending holiday parties, receptions, and network events, and shopping for all the gifts you want to give.  Don’t lose sight of the things that really make a difference in your fundraising program. 

Money rarely walks in through the door.  You have to ask for it.  Go call and visit.  Ask your board and other staff members to do the same.  Keep the team moving.  The more you and your team asks, the more you are going to receive. 

To Read More:

A 2009 article on Guidestar’s website, written by Gail Perry, a NC fundraising consultant and author of Fired-Up Fundraising, Igniting Board Passion into Action outlines several strategies to get to the end-of-year goal.  These are great strategies, as relevant in 2014 as they were in 2009. 

Also:  Check out this article, "How Raise $50,000 in Six Weeks," written by Kim Klein in 2007" (again, just as relevant today!).  It was published in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal.   One of the things I love about this article is that it has some very practical tips for working with volunteers on short-term, fundraising campaigns.  Kim advocates doling out names of prospects to call to volunteers in small lists of three prospects at a time. She argues volunteers can be overwhelmed by longer lists (and then end up procrastinating). The volunteer can call-in and report after the first three calls and receive three more names.  Read the article for more insight. 

You’re goal is within reach so don’t let go of that bone!  

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