Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some Facts About Fundraising

There are a few well-proven facts that board members and staff need to understand as you evaluate and plan for current and future fundraising, or development, efforts, e.g., membership, annual fund, capital and endowment campaigns, planned giving, and major gifts.

*Individual giving is the cornerstone of nonprofit annual and major giving. In 2009, 75% of the charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations came from individual donors, with only 13% coming from foundations, another 8% from bequests, and 4% from corporations[i].
*Of the total giving in 2009, only 4% went to Arts, Culture, and Humanities (this is the sector where museums and history organization show up). The largest sector, religion, received 33% of the contributions. Of particular note, Education is second at 13%.[ii] The more connected you are with K-12 education, the more eligible you are for a bigger piece of the funding pie.
*On average, 80% of the dollars comes from 20% of your donor base; the reverse is true as well. As a result, both groups require your attention, but in different ways.
*It’s a very rare gift that is a large first gift. With caring stewardship combined with appropriate solicitation methods, identifiable segments of the membership base will move up the donor ladder toward larger and larger gifts. This process is a natural progression – a continuum – for our solicitation efforts and our donors.
*Donors must be an involved constituency and care about the service you provide.
*The board must be the vanguard of those supporting the Museum. They must have 100% participation in the giving program at the highest level they can each support. Major gifts usually come in large part from the board and their relationships.

It is also important to note that diversified income streams are critical to the sustainability of any organization. If one revenue source is negatively impacted by external or internal forces, then the others can pick up the slack in a given budget cycle.

Because individuals are 75% of the charitable giving pool, the Toolkit chapter, titled “Fearless Fundraising: A Roadmap for Kick-Starting Your Development Program,” by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, focuses primarily on practical approaches to asking individuals to donate.

[i]“The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2009,” Giving USA, accessed June 8, 2011,
[ii] “The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2009.”

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