When $90 Raised Matters More Than $100

If your organization has a philanthropic arm that is focused on raising money, here’s a simple question for you: Would you rather increase your overall fundraising by $100 or $90?

By: Mike Evenson, CMO at AudienceView

If your organization has a philanthropic arm that is focused on raising money, here’s a simple question for you:

Would you rather increase your overall fundraising by $100 or $90?

You’re probably thinking the obvious answer is $100. But here’s a wrinkle for you. The $100 donation is coming from a single supporter while the $90 is coming from nine separate people who all donated $10 each. Does your answer change with the prospect of having eight additional individuals engaged with your organization?

The reality is we work with our clients to achieve both – the individual $100 donor as well as the micro-donors that take opportunities to fuel your mission with small donations when prompted. 

Organizations that want to build a consistent pipeline of donor prospects simply cannot ignore the future value in implementing micro-donation campaigns. Sure, the immediate boost to your fundraising campaigns is appreciated – no matter how small the gift is. But the true value is seeing each micro-donation represents someone who is emotionally connected to your purpose and mission.

This seemingly inconsequential act of giving $10 generally occurs during a checkout experience or when prompted to donate during an event. It shouldn’t kick off any major gift prospecting to turn these supporters into six-figure donors. But it does show loyalty and interest in your mission, which could translate into more fundraising dollars down the road. That’s exciting!

So how do you start engaging with these individuals? What’s your plan for following up? It’s not like they are expecting confetti for giving such a small amount.

Too often, we see organizations make two common mistakes:

  1.     Doing nothing – ugh!
  2.     Immediately asking for more money – worse!

The best practice is really somewhere in the middle. Every organization absolutely needs an engagement strategy for people who make small donations, especially new donors.

Here are three ways you can develop a relationship with people that have shown a philanthropic interest in your organization through a small monetary gift:

 1. Show them how their money is used.

Send a thank you note and relate their donation to something that your organization would spend that money on. For $10, maybe it’s a set of sax or clarinet reeds for your musicians, a new water bottle for a student-athlete or a few light bulbs to brighten your backstage enough for performers to get ready for the show. Whatever you choose, make it relevant and personal to your organization. That will deepen your connection.

2. Tell them about your mission.

When people give a small amount, it’s a perfect opportunity to educate them about your organization’s current purpose and mission. While people come to your venue for an event, they have no idea what role you might be playing in their community. By telling them, you connect their small gift to a higher purpose.

3. Use your talent.

Put your stars and athletes in front of the camera. Make the connection that their donation is having an impact on the performers’ ability to pursue what they love or a student-athlete driving towards a degree. By connecting their act of giving to the people they love to watch perform, you create a stronger connection with your mission.

Any of these ideas can be distributed to your new donors in small bites over a period of time. Doing this through automated email drip campaigns (like AudienceView Unlimited or our AudienceView Professional integration with MailChimp) is an easy and cost-effective way to stay in touch and build stronger relationships. In addition, the people you are reaching will likely go to an event soon or have recently attended one. By incorporating that experience into your engagement program, you start to build a 360-degree view of who each person is and how they are engaging with your organization. These cradle-to-grave customer profiles help maintain lifelong relationships.

After you run this campaign – perhaps it’s a six-week email series – use the results to plot out the next stage in your engagement journey. Maybe it’s taking your most involved new donors, as measured by click-through engagement or additional ticket purchases or both, and inviting them to a special tour of your venue such as a backstage experience at an upcoming event. Put the invitation out and see who responds positively. This will create a more narrow focus with a higher probability of success when you do make that ask for a larger donation.

Of course, all this is predicated on the idea that you are actively trying to acquire micro-donors. 

If you aren’t, get started right away. If your system doesn’t facilitate an integrated ticketing and fundraising experience, contact us immediately so we can help.

If you are, take stock of your engagement programs that run after someone gives a small amount. Design and execute an engagement program a few times. Then look back at the nine people who donated $10 each compared to the one person who gave $100.

Perhaps sometimes less really is more.