When posed with a choice between doubling big donors or everyday donors, Bill Gates takes the latter. During the Gates Foundation’s Greater Giving summit, Bill and Melinda, two figures with heavy influence in the nonprofit sector, had a conversation about digital giving and the way it is revolutionizing philanthropy. “Everyday givers power the philanthropic world, contributing not only money, but time,” Bill said. “While many of these donors make small financial contributions, they build valuable ties with local organizations.”
If these donors are so important, organizations will need to make a more concerted effort toward reaching them with the same treatment they give major donors and top prospects to effectively grow giving at scale.
An increased focus on everyday givers helps lighten the burden on a top-heavy donor pyramid. In times of financial stress, the immediate reflex is to go back to the top and ask for more. But when fundraisers keep asking, eventually that “yes” turns into a “no” and donor fatigue sets in, which forces fundraisers to put even more work in to repair that relationship without being able to leverage that relationship for a gift. Many organizations rely on a few champion donors, but when they’re looked to as the primary source of funding, the relationship begins to take on parasitic and transactional undertones.
Instead, organizations must turn to the relationships not fully built yet. Whether it’s young alumni, LYBUNTs and SYBUNTs, or small but habitual givers, there are more constituents out there that have both the affinity and capacity to give more, but have lacked the personal relationship that would uncover that information. Sometimes, a personal touch can spark an immediate monetary gift, but, as Bill Gates mentioned, their time can be just as valuable. Real engagement broadens an organization’s support base and increases ties to the community it serves.
“Everyday givers power the philanthropic world, contributing not only money, but time. While many of these donors make small financial contributions, they build valuable ties with local organizations.”
The digitization of philanthropy will ultimately accelerate this effort rather than hinder it. Many fundraisers are finding that they can actually spend more time engaging with donors and prospects over Zoom who would normally be a flight away, and they can have back-to-back “visits” with a Californian and a Georgian. And although staff numbers may be limited with ongoing hiring freezes or even conflicting priorities, foundations are getting creative with personalization on events like Days of Giving. Instead of a cursory phone call, they’re using their digital platform to begin a sequence of personally engaging communications, hoping to strengthen relationships with those who might not otherwise get them.
As Bill Gates mentions, everyday givers are deeply engaged in their communities. Return that deep engagement, and it bolsters your organization, both financially and socially.
Curious how you can personalize donor outreach beyond the top of the giving pyramid? Talk with a Gravyty specialist today and see what is possible in digital philanthropy, or register for our upcoming webinar with San Diego State University and learn how they are targeting any donor segment with highly personal, 1-to-1 communications.