How to Use Your Donor Pyramid as a Starting Point to Build Donation Strategies

Last updated: December 4, 2020

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When laying the foundation for an effective donation strategy, many nonprofits turn to a tried and true tool: the donor pyramid. The donor pyramid can show you where to focus your attention when fundraising. Have you taken a look at yours recently?

As the fundraising landscape shifts, reexamining your donor pyramid is a necessity. The team at iWave is here to show you how the different donation levels can propel new fundraising strategies forward.

What’s a Donor Pyramid?

A donor pyramid is a helpful fundraising tool used to keep your organization on track and ensure you’re raising the maximum number of gifts. This resource organizes prospects by their level of engagement and can help you identify where you might have gaps in your strategies.

If your team has put together one of these handy tools, it probably looks like this:

How to Create a Donor Pyramid to Raise More for Your Capital Campaign

It’s important to keep in mind that every pyramid will look different in terms of how many donors are in each category. You most likely kicked off your fundraising strategy by crafting a donor pyramid but may not have revisited it in some time. Be sure to revisit the donor pyramid as you craft new strategies to propel your nonprofit forward year after year.

Fill in Fundraising Gaps

Staring at your donor pyramid and noticing you have a decent amount of major and planned donors as well as plenty of one-time donors contributing to your cause? These are the main types of donors, with major givers being the main cultivation goal for organizations—especially big nonprofits. However, in focusing attention here, you might overlook the middle segment of the pyramid.

To ensure your organization is gaining the support it needs to continue enacting real change within your community, you’ll want to maximize donations at every pyramid level. Lay your current donor pyramid out before you and identify the weaker areas where you have less donors than others.

Is monthly membership low or could you use more annual donors? Figure out the areas that could use improvement and then craft your strategy from there.

iWave Identifies Prospects with the Capacity to Move Up in the Pyramid

One of the great aspects of iWave is our ability to blend your internal data with our external information. For example, you might have many donors who give sporadically as opposed to every month or year. Our platform can tell you who may have the financial means to join a membership and start making monthly contributions.

This intelligent resource is built on billions of datapoints. It can analyze numerous factors and key wealth indicators to show you where there is potential for greater giving.

Building A Donation Strategy Around Your Donor Pyramid

Another way to incorporate the donor pyramid into your fundraising strategy is to build events and fundraisers tailored to different donor levels. After our platform has helped you build a more well-rounded donor pyramid, it’s time to engage your donors.

It’s important to vary your fundraising strategies to not only appeal to new donors, but to further engage current donors. With the increase in virtual events worldwide, it’s now easier than ever to open up your fundraising efforts to mid-level and even lower-level donors.

The following are some events you can plan based on donor pyramid levels:

  • One-Time Donors/Sporadic Donors

Since these are supporters who only contribute every once in a while, you can expect them to participate in fun, quick events. Some examples of this can be: Online t-shirt and merchandise sales, local business partnerships, online raffles, text-to-give events, etc.

  • Members/Reoccurring Donors

Members are those who pay a monthly donation fee to receive limited edition merchandise, invites to exclusive events, and access to the latest information first. You’ll want to engage these supporters through member-only fundraisers such as an online auction or with exclusive business partnerships.

  • Annual Donors

Annual donors are typically major gift donors who support you yearly. Launch an annual campaign targeted to these givers around the holidays when people are more charitable or around your organization’s anniversary to emphasize all you have accomplished over the past year.

  • Major Donors/Planned Giving

These donors have the greatest propensity to support your mission, so it’s important to create a more exclusive event for them. Online galas are a fun and easy way to incorporate these donors. Virtual events are especially helpful since you can reach your supporters no matter how far away they may be located.

As the organizer of a nonprofit, you know no gift is too small. It’s important to incorporate all levels of the donor pyramid in different aspects of your fundraising strategies.

Be Open to Donors of All Types

When it comes to supporting your mission, gifts of all sizes are welcome. Some large organizations may be inclined to dedicate the majority of their attention to donors at the top of the pyramid.

iWave has compiled case studies that show the impressive effects of simply opening up a campaign to annual and mid-level donors. If you’d like to see similar results, leverage your donor pyramid to identify prospects at lower levels. Be sure to engage them in new and different ways!

How Donor Pyramids Can Assist your Capital Campaign

When you have a specific end goal in mind, such as a new hospital wing or afterschool rec center, then you may want to launch a capital campaign. Your donor pyramid can come in handy here as well!

Since capital campaigns are distinguished by two distinct fundraising periods (Private/Quiet and Public) with the majority of gifts being earned in the initial private phase, it’s important you start off strong with your fundraising efforts.

If you aim your fundraising efforts at a random sample of prospective donors, then your return on investment will be diluted. You may be reaching out to people who don’t have the capacity or inclination to support your cause and therefore won’t yield the results you’re looking for.

By looking towards your donor pyramid, you can craft specific asks for donors at different levels. You’ll also be able to create more personalized asks, forging a stronger relationship with donors and helping your nonprofit in the long run.

From the Donor Pyramid to Your Campaign

When you have clear and concise goal setting with established prospects, you’ll likely have a more successful campaign with minimal roadblocks. The following steps can help you create a data-driven donor pyramid to assist your campaign:

  1. Uncover the right donors for your campaign. Each campaign is different, and you’ll want to find your supporters based on their individual giving indicators.
  2. Evaluate your prospects. Choose which ones will be able to contribute to the private portion of fundraising and craft a personalized strategy on how to ask for a major gift.
  3. Set your budget. Make sure your budget is unique to the resources you’ll need for the specific number of prospects in your campaign. You’ll also want to build into your budget room for any unexpected factors or issues that may arise.
  4. Reach out to your prospects. Go down your list, starting with the largest asks and continue asking for donations until your list is completed. Even if you meet your campaign goal, continue to fundraise and exceed your original goals. This will set you up for an easier public portion of fundraising and will help cover the expenses of your campaign.

Tap into Different Levels of Your Donor Pyramid with iWave

Ready to take your nonprofit to a whole new level of fundraising? Then let’s take another look at your donor pyramid!

Our team at iWave will be by your side every step of the way to help you identify when lower level donors may be able to give more to your nonprofit. Contact our team today to learn more about how our fundraising software can empower your organization.

If you’re new to iWave, we’re happy to schedule a free fundraising assessment or demo with you to show you how our next-generation platform can be tailored to your organization’s specific needs.

Written by Admin

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