Make the Most of Your Fundraising Time

Posted: Mar 03rd, 2020 Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Creating a budget for your campaign or organization is an important early step to take in order to ensure that you have enough gas to make it all the way. Because of this, fundraising is a necessary and vital part of your race.

FundHero gave you tips to help you find WHO to contact, and now we want to help you fund your cause by providing tips on WHAT you need to make the most of your time when asking for donations.


The Donor Triangle

The donor triangle is a helpful guide as you plan to reach your fundraising goals; it provides a structured yet adaptable framework around your fundraising activities that makes sure that you are talking to the right people, asking for enough, able to identify gaps, and forecast future needs and targets.


Begin with the end in mind

Have you created a budget? If not, get on it straight away! The donor triangle does not work if you don’t have a final number in mind (if you need some tips on creating a budget, you can start here.

To keep things simple, let’s suppose that you will need to raise $10,000 by a certain day in order to ensure that you have the resources you need to succeed.


The 80/20 Principle

There is an interesting phenomenon in nature known as the 80/20 or Pareto Principle which says that roughly 80% of events come from 20% of the causes; roughly 80% of traffic occurs on 20% of the roads, roughly 20% of your carpet receives 80% of the total wear, and, in the case of fundraising, roughly 20% of your donors will account for 80% of the total amount of money coming into your campaign or organization.

With this principle in mind, you can reasonably expect that $8,000 will come from a relatively small number of individuals and organizations, with the remaining $2,000 coming from smaller donors. This may seem daunting, but, in reality, it is very liberating. This is because this knowledge allows you to know how to properly focus your efforts when you are deciding who to contact for your next donation.

But, knowing what to expect isn’t enough, you also need to know who to expect it from and see if you need to cultivate more relationships to make your final goal.


It’s Who You Know

As you are putting your list of potential donors together, be thinking about how much money you think you can reasonably expect from each individual. If you have 100 people and groups you plan to call, but you are only going to expect $25 from each, you are going to fall well short of your goal; if, on the other hand, you expect $2,500 from one, $1,000 from two or three, $500 from five, and $250 from 20, you are well on your way.

When starting your fundraising drive, it can be helpful to visualize your potential donors to guide your future fundraising decisions. Pretend that you have looked over your potential donors and have guessed the likelihood of a donation and the amount you expect to receive from each person or group and put them in the following chart:

Donor contribution level chart


Based on this budget, a few things should stand out.

First, and most importantly, you see that you are about $1,000 short of your goal. The next thing you should notice is that donations are very bottom-heavy, with 46.6% of your total donors giving $50 or less (well outside the 80/20 principle). The final thing you should notice is that relatively few people are expected to donate at the $250 - $500 range.

So the question you should ask yourself is this: “Should I spend the time reaching out to approximately 20 people and organizations in order to chase down one to four donations that total $1,000, or should I spend the time reaching out to approximately 125 people to try and chase down 30 donations of $50 or less?”

The answer should be clear: gathering the information necessary to track down 20 potential donors is far easier to come by and receive than hoping you can gather the names of some 125 people, contact them, and then follow up in hopes that 20 to 40 actually contribute.

donor triangle lables


Revisit and Revise

As with everything else in life, you will need to be ready to adapt to your current fundraising situation. The 80/20 principle along with fundraising charts like the one you see above should serve as guideposts only - you can’t just sit back and assume that your $2,500 donation will come if you don’t put the work in to get it. If, on the other hand, you are noticing that you only have a hand full of medium-sized donations ($50 - $250), it might be time to start coming up with strategies to increase the number of both your potential small and large donations.

Review your fundraising plan at least once a month to help ensure that you are staying on target, and don’t be afraid to change your fundraising strategy if need be. Nothing is worse than limping into Election Day without the resources to make the final and all-important push.

Curtis Haring

Curtis Haring has been involved in politics his entire adult life. Having worked both in Washington D.C. and in Utah politics, Curtis has worn many hats on various political campaigns over the years including Campaign Manager, Executive Director, Policy Advisor, and Volunteer Coordinator. Currently, Curtis, along with a group of co-hosts, discuss Utah politics and policy on the Utah Political Capitol podcast and website. Curtis lives with his wife and two adorable cats in Bountiful, Utah (and yes, his wife is adorable too).