In most successful fundraising campaigns, fewer than 20% of donors will have contributed more than 80% of the funding. These vital few have the potential to pledge lead gifts early on and make a campaign viable. They can act as they wish, get involved themselves, and to lead others to give as well.
Individuals in a position to give at a higher level can make an appeal work, can fund new ideas and can lean on others to support projects. Yet many charities find it hard to harness those around them and engage them with their work and plans. Commonly, charities will know one or two philanthropic individuals, but haven’t got close enough to count them as prospects, or won’t have engaged with individuals well in the past.
Contrary to popular belief, major donors rarely appear on a white charger, armed with sudden enthusiasm and a large chequebook. People give substantially when they have had real involvement from the drawing board on, when they have a meaningful role in the campaign and when they are involved enough that they really want it to happen.
Tarnside helps charities unlock the potential of major donors:
Who amongst a charity’s friends is in a position to support in a substantial way, understanding connections and potential to give or to influence grants. This is not always who people believe it to be, and research and discussions can identify individuals who have the capacity to support and the propensity to give.
Having identified the people who can open doors, understanding who within or close to the organisation has their respect, and can secure their initial interest. By and large there will be one opportunity to get this right and the opportunity cost will be high, so this needs to well planned and impossible to pass up.
By their nature, people in a position to give at a high level will be demanding and used to understanding business plans and new strategies. They will expect to be consulted early on, will ask tough questions and will want to engage with senior people. If they are willing to invest their time and energy into a project, they need to be well supported throughout and know their contribution is real, needed and valued.