Fundraising Is a Numbers Game – Are You in Front of Enough People?

Some of us cringe when we hear fundraising referred to as a numbers game. I mean – that applies to sales – not relationship-based fundraising.

But… I have to admit that in many ways it is a numbers game. We need to get in front of enough people that we’re able to find the right people. In fact, the standard donor pyramid and gift range chart refer to the numbers game. The donor pyramid starts with the total universe of people at the bottom of the chart and narrowing numbers of people involved as you go up each level. The gift range chart as well takes into account the fact that you need multiple prospects in each gift range for each gift needed to successfully complete a campaign.

So yes, fundraising is really a numbers game. And one of the ways to reach the numbers of people you need to is through an awareness campaign. But not just a general awareness campaign – you need to be asking for permission to stay in contact with people and let them know how their support is helping to change lives.

And then, once you have that permission, it’s necessary to stay in touch. Perhaps this is where you start to get uncomfortable. You don’t want to bug them by being in touch too often (and for some of you reading this, too often refers to monthly or even quarterly). Email updates are a great way to stay in touch. Not to ask for money (every time), but a mechanism to help supporters (and potential supporters) feel like they’re part of the family.

Here are three reasons this is so important:

  • Awareness builds community goodwill. As readers hear about the great things your organization is accomplishing, they feel better about you and what you are doing. This is reinforced when they hear your message repeatedly. It’s hard to find something cheaper and easier than email to stay in touch – and stay in front of – your potential supporters.
  • If they don’t know abut you, they won’t give to you. Seeing something in the newspaper once won’t get the message through. Hearing just one presentation probably won’t either. By inviting people to join your email list, you have the opportunity for readers to really get to know you – and to trust you.
  • Many potential supporters don’t understand the need that your organization is addressing. I assure you that your lack of supporters really isn’t because people don’t care. It really is that people just don’t know. Being in regular contact with these people (after they find you at an in person event, through the newspaper or on your website) gives you time to provide that information (about the need for your organization) over time and in a respectful manner.

Do you agree that fundraising is, in at least this respect, a numbers game? And if so, what you are doing to build the list of people you’re communicating with on a regular basis?