An important technique all churches, ministries, and non-profits can learn from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is how they focused their fundraising. While Hillary Clinton was focusing on a handful of major donors, Obama concentrated on many more smaller donors – primarily using the web. While no one would turn away a million dollar gift, understanding the difference is important. Here’s why:
1) When someone gives a major gift, it’s usually a one-time thing. You usually can’t go back to the well with that person. In Hillary’s case, as the campaign came down to the wire, she couldn’t go back to those big givers for more money.
2) But with people who give $25 – $200 gifts, you can go back many more times. So if you have thousands of people giving smaller gifts, by turning them into regular givers, the amount adds up. And if you can make them regular, monthly givers, you’ve reached fundraising heaven.
3) Major givers often want a voice in the process. I had a once client who happened to have a board of very rich guys. So rich, they gave 85% of the organization’s total budget. Sounds good, but the leader told me that when people give that much, strings are often attached. He was conflicted, but he admitted he’d much rather have an army of smaller givers than these major donors.
It’s interesting to note that although the legal limit for campaign donations is $2,300, 47% of Obama’s giving came in gifts of $200 or less. Reports indicate that the key to his giving was creating an emotional connection through his website between his organization and the community of supporters. He also created an successful “matching” donation program that brought many new givers into the campaign – so people who felt their small gift of $15 wasn’t much, could be matched with other givers and feel like they were making a bigger difference.