I have designed and run countless fundraising campaigns over the past twenty-five years I have spent in fundraising. I have written the plans, the messaging, and created the fundraising teams and the communications tools, and all that good stuff. And what I have learned through all this experience is that there is one tool, and one tool only, that is absolutely crucial to the success of a fundraising campaign. And that tool is none of the items I just listed above.
So what is it? What is this one indispensable thing for fundraising success? That thing is a "donor gift table," also known as a prospect spreadsheet. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to contain this information. And why is this tool so important? Because this is the one thing that tells you who you will ask for what amount of money and that indicates the likelihood of those people giving. The donor gift table turns the fundraising campaign from an "idea so crazy that it just might work" into your source of confidence and certainty. With a donor gift table, you will know exactly how you are going to raise the money.
If you would like me to email you an example of a donor gift table with dummy info to show you how the data is arranged and how the table appears overall, email me at holly (at) hollymillion (dot) com.
By putting the names and dollar amounts in tabular form, and by adding up the totals and seeing how you come to your goal, you change the process from guesswork to simple execution. Instead of broadcasting your campaign appeals only through email, a website, or over the Internet, you now know that you will approach each of these individuals with a direct request as part of the mix of the campaign activities. You will ask each person for this specific amount, and you will request a response. This is a game-changer.
If I had to dispense with a written plan, with messaging, with a nice campaign name and logo, with a case statement, with all those other things, I could still run a solid campaign so long as I had my donor gift table and contact information for each person listed on it.
I recommend investing a large amount of time right at the beginning of your planning process, to getting your prospects in order and the ask amounts determined through past giving patterns if they exist, through consultation with members of your fundraising committee or board who have the relationship with the specific individuals, and through online research, to determine the right ask amount.
Look at the totals for asks versus projected receipts. Are you short of your goal? Increase the ask amounts. Or, add more prospects to the list and make sure you come out ahead of the goal.
Does making a list seem like commonsense? Yes, it does. There is nothing arcane or far out about fundraising. It's all common sense, being organized, and honoring relationships. If you can do these basic things, then you can be a successful fundraiser. Go out and raise some money!
— In fundraising solidarity,