DBD AXIOMS: Interest and Capacity

October 23, 2014

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Written By: Bruce

By Bruce Berglund


At Donor By Design, we are guided by a series of axioms: Core concepts that shape our work and have proven their worth over and over again. In this new series, we’ll dig into these axioms and clarify how they can help you achieve your development goals.


For years I have started my fundraising presentations with what I call “the simple formula for fundraising.” The concept is: where interest and capacity meet… there is your gift.

The vertical axis represents capacity. We really can’t change much about capacity – our donors and prospects are worth what they are worth. In my opinion, we spend far too much time discussing, debating and and generally fussing over capacity. Please don’t misunderstand me, we need a cadre of major donors who have capacity to move our cause forward. However, we can’t affect their net worth. (Other than, perhaps, buying them a lottery ticket.)

© 2010-2014 Donor By Design Group LLC

© 2010-2014 Donor By Design Group LLC

The horizontal axis represents various levels of interest. Lower levels of interest produce smaller gifts.

To illustrate, consider this scenario. You ask a donor/prospect for $100,000 and receive $10,000. Does a $10,000 gift mean they dislike your organization? Of course not! $10,000 is still a significant gift. But when you asked for $100,000, they sized your organization up and decided that they had $10,000 of interest.

Understanding this simple formula for fundraising, I challenge our clients to think of themselves as interest raisers not fundraisers. Our job is to raise the interest of donors and prospects in the cause, and then ask for their investment when their interest is high.

This leads me to another one of our core axioms: speed dating in fundraising doesn’t work. It fails because it doesn’t acknowledge that building interest takes time and effort. The amount of time and kind of effort will vary for different donors. Therefore, we must develop tailored engagement plans for our top prospects. These plans help guide our interest-raising and produce larger gifts.

Interest raisers unite!

 

DBD - Interest and Capacity

 

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3 responses to “DBD AXIOMS: Interest and Capacity”

  1. […] who is a peer of the donor. It is also a perfect illustration of our tried-and-true adage: where interest meets capacity is where you’ll find your gift. Take a pre-emptive “go away” gift as a sign that you have a lot of interest-raising left to do […]

  2. […] At Donor By Design, we are guided by a series of axioms: Core concepts that shape our work and have proven their worth over and over again. In this series, we’re digging into these axioms and clarify how they can help you achieve your development goals. Read Part 1. […]

  3. […] mistake in recruiting leaders as we do with major gift fundraising. I often coach my clients that “speed dating” doesn’t work in major gift fundraising. I coach them to take the time to build a relationship, put a face to the […]