I recently had a conversation with an organization that had a good laugh when I described fundraising as the positive side of a pyramid scheme. And I do believe that. In fact, in the nonprofit fundraising world, a campaign structure looks like a pyramid. Well, if I were an absolute optimist, it would be an upside-down pyramid with lots of top dollar donors and then just a few at the entry level.
But back to reality. As many know, the pyramid is built around a top gift, followed by one, two or three substantial but slightly lower (but no less significant) gifts, five to six more etc. But take it a step further and that pyramid in a more live form includes more than gifts - it includes action: Donors telling two friends about their gift, who tell two friends about their gift and so on. Wow - sounds a bit like Amway but without the paper towels, baby food etc - right?
Anyway, this approach was around and worked way before "crowdfunding" and "social media" were part of the fundraisers vernacular. With the emphasis on getting the word out on as many channels as possible, I thought it might be worth considering some of the key features of the pyramid and what makes for the strongest structure:
The Bricks: Do you truly know the donors that make up your pyramid? Who are they? Do you have some really solid bricks that create the foundation. Do you have a few more that still need some time to become a core part of the structure or even the top? Do you have an A list, a B list and a C list and a plan that consistently keeps donors and prospects moving up the ladder?
The Mortar: What's the stuff (glue, cement - choose your metaphor) that keeps it all in place? In other words, what's your short, medium and long-term plan that encourages your structure to grow in its entirety - not just the bottom foundation, the middle or even the top. All need to consistently grow and move forward.
The Builders: How happy, excited and strong are your builders? The Bricks and Mortar aren't going to get together on their own. You need a great team of builders - volunteers, of course - that are committed to seeing all this work together. Are you and your organization doing all the right things to keep your builders excited, informed and challenged? Your structure will only be as strong as your builders are committed.
Hope you had some fun looking at the positive side of a pyramid game! If you need help identifying your Bricks, Mortars and Builder, let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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