by Terry Fairholm on 2010-09-15
When I am making campaign major gift solicitation calls, one important piece of information I share with prospects is the campaign pyramid (or gift chart). In my experience, one of the least understood elements of fundraising is how the dollar goal is actually achieved and what is really required to be successful. So to educate the prospect, create confidence and ensure them that, in the proper sequence, everyone in the constituency will be asked for their support, I review and explain the campaign pyramid.
Setting the campaign dollar goal and creating the campaign major gift pyramid should only be done after having completed a feasibility study and having engaged in comprehensive prospect identification, research and evaluation.
In Catholic secondary education, the reality is that at least 70% of the campaign dollar goal will come from the top 10 commitments. Knowing who those prospects are, engaging them in the campaign process and developing a relationship with them should be the highest priority for school leaders.
The remaining 30% will come from the balance of the major gift prospects and the reality of that section of the pyramid is that more solicitation calls must be made; it is taking more prospects and more asks to achieve campaign goals in today’s economic times.
One of the most common errors I have witnessed is confusing the school’s need with the school’s fundraising potential – those two numbers are mutually exclusive, they have absolutely no relationship and nothing to do with each other. Just because the school needs $15 million does not mean it can raise $15 million. In my experience, every Catholic high school needs more money than it can raise, however, setting an unrealistic dollar goal will only lead to frustration and, ultimately, failure.
Do your homework on prospects, follow the process, set a REALISTIC goal and then go to work. Remember, it’s all about execution.