The art of the $5 gift
In nonprofit fundraising, it’s common to spend the most time and effort going after donors with a passion for our mission and the willingness to give large gifts over a period of time. The truth of the matter is, though, these kinds of donors are becoming fewer and far between for many organizations. The nonprofit environment is a competitive one and the current economic environment is one of tight purse strings.More and more nonprofits are finding increased success and sustainability by shifting their mindsets and focusing instead on donors who are willing to give smaller, more frequent gifts. Think about it:

  • Small donations add up. By going after a large volume of small donations, your nonprofit can gain higher visibility among potential donors while offering an accessible means of participating in your mission and programs. The upcoming presidential election is already proving to be a great example of this on a large scale—many candidates are raising up to 60 percent of campaign funds through gifts of less than $200.
  • Small donations can lead to larger contributions over time. Engage donors through smaller gifts and build trust by demonstrating the return on investment in order to cultivate relationships that may lead to larger donations in the future.
  • Small donations are often seen as less of an obstacle for first-time donors. Hundreds and thousands of dollars is a large commitment while a buck or two is less than a morning coffee. It’s easy for anyone to become involved in what your organization has to offer.

Add a booster to your giving campaigns and consider a focus on the smaller gifts with ideas like these …

  • Program add-ons. When people pay to participate in programs or attend events, encourage them to add $1-5 to their registration as a gift. They are already entering payment information, adding on a buck or two is as simple as a click of the mouse. Be sure to treat these add-on donors with the same gratitude as more traditional donors. Send them a thank-you or make them a “member” with a membership card or small gift like a t-shirt.
  • Partner with local stores. Take the add-on concept and approach a local retailer. Ask them to partner with your organization to encourage customers to round up their total to the nearest even number and donate the difference to your organization. Offer donors a name placard to display in store or a small gift, like a button or a pin for participation.
  • Include a payment option in your annual campaign. Offer to stretch a series of small gifts over the course of a few months or a year to comprise a larger gift of greater tax benefit to donors by including “payment plans” or a monthly automated contribution option as part of your annual campaign.
  • Tag team it. Find a large donor who is willing to offer their donation as a match for smaller donations instead of one lump sum. This can further encourage small donations by communicating to donors that their small gift can have a bigger impact, “For every $5 you donate, $5 will be matched to multiply the power of your gift.” Send a special thank-you, like a gift basket, to the large donor for participation.
  • Illustrate how far a small gift can go. Calculate what a small gift can do and share that with potential donors.

No gift is too small and every donation helps. This mindset is the crux of many successful campaigns and is potentially worth exploring.

Attkisson, Sharyl. “Tea Party Candidates Boosted by Small Donors – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.” Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News. Web. 19 Sept. 2011.

 

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