Especially as we fundraisers begin preparing for the EOY giving season, we can’t forget the importance of the small and mid-level donor in our planning and strategies. They are the bedrock of so many fundraising programs, and they deserve our attention and celebration just as much, if not more, that the big names in the headlines
Without question, the biggest name in philanthropy right now is MacKenzie Scott.
The ex-wife of Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos, Ms. Scott gave away $4 Billion in general operating support to 384 organizations in 2020. So far in 2021, she has donated another $2.7 Billion to 286 organizations.
But as the nonprofit sector focuses on Ms. Scott’s awesome philanthropy (and she really is setting a new and very important standard for giving away unrestricted dollars), we’re aware that many other names are getting lost.
In fact, millions of them are.
They are the names of small and mid-level donors.
According to the latest GivingUSA numbers, in 2000, about 70% of American households were making charitable gifts. That percentage has been rolling downhill over the last 20 years, and in 2020, it hit 60%. If allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, it will undoubtedly fall further. Philanthropy and fundraising will become disproportionately the territory of the major and mega donor. For small and community-based organizations, this is not happy news.
We’re reading several thought-provoking hypotheses as to why household participation in philanthropy is sliding. Melissa S. Brown & Associates, LLC, for example, offer the thesis that over the last 20 years, Americans increasingly feel as if they’re not well off and can’t afford to give, even if that perception does not align with their true financial reality. But this perception of being squeezed and pinched is powerful and persuasive, and it can easily override objectivity.
Whatever the reasons behind the decline, the Thread team sees a clear call to action for us all:
Attend specifically to your small and mid-level donors, for their engagement and retention is not a given.
Segment your small and mid-level donors with special care and strategy.
Underline the importance of their involvement.
Affirm their well-being and honor your shared values together.
Celebrate their giving and recognize its influence.
Offer genuine thanks and appreciation.
Especially as we fundraisers begin preparing for the EOY giving season, we can’t forget the importance of the small and mid-level donor in our planning and strategies. They are the bedrock of so many fundraising programs, and they deserve our attention and celebration just as much, if not more, that the big names in the headlines.
Want to talk more about how to best engage your small and mid-level donors? This is one of our favorite topics at Thread! Give us a shout at [email protected] and let’s brainstorm creative ways to engage this donor group together.