How a Donor Pyramid Can Make or Break Your Capital Campaign

How a Donor Pyramid Can Make or Break Your Capital Campaign

June 28, 2019
Sharanya Venkatesh

Are you starting a capital campaign? Then, missing this step could send your campaign down a rocky road. This important step is building a donor pyramid.  These structures also referred to as fundraising pyramids, are an accurate way to prioritize development efforts.

Yet, not all pyramids are created equal. Read on to see how to build one that will boost your campaign and help you exceed your goals.

What is a donor pyramid?

A fundraising pyramid is a visual that categorizes prospects by their engagement level. Further, it provides nonprofits a path to move donors from lower levels of giving to greater commitment.

fundraising pyramid

While some donors will move from one -time donations to planned giving, not everyone has the same journey.  For instance, mid-level donors are generally a reliable segment. They need a strategy that is tailored to them and they shouldn’t always be pushed up the giving ladder. However, there are still hidden gems in your donor base who can be nurtured all the way to the top of the pyramid.

Why Donor Pyramids can Make or Break Your Capital Campaign

A fundraising pyramid helps you focus your campaign dollars to the right set of prospects. When you build a data-driven pyramid, your data will automatically reveal patterns that you can use to build your campaign.

Starting a campaign that is aimed at a random sampling (or the entirety) of your database will dilute your ROI. When your entire base receives a generic message from your nonprofit, the number of people who will engage will naturally be low.

Even if you’re in the middle of a capital campaign and you realize that you’re not seeing results, a donor pyramid can help revive it. All you have to do is segment your base and prioritize those prospects who have the propensity, capacity, and intent to give.

How to Create a Data-Driven Fundraising Pyramid

Wealth screening is the first step. Screening data gives you a holistic picture of who your prospects are. In other words, you can understand your prospects’ wealth, lifestyle, interests, and affinities.  This means you now know their potential not only in terms of capacity to give but also interest and intent.

By learning more about who they are, you can really speak their language. For example, United Way of Greater Saint Louis says,

“We really like the level of granularity we can get in the data, understanding details, such as propensity to give and giving capacities helps to fill in gaps in the profiles….Finally, learning about a prospect’s interests can help us better shape the conversation to customize our asks. We are a lot more cautious about the ask now that we have more intelligence…”

Therefore, screening helps you segment your prospects into different rungs of your donor pyramid. Those with the highest capacity and engagement (for instance, those with high P2G scores) are candidates for major gifts or planned giving. Similarly, those with lower capacities but high engagement are well suited for mid-level or recurring donations.

Interested in learning more about creating data-driven campaigns? Download our Data-Driven Major Gifts Campaign Workbook!

Using Modeling to Enhance Your Donor Pyramid

Wealth Screening is the first step, which means that a wealth model can drive your capital campaigns much further.

Screening can give you a broader view of your donor base. Modeling can actually help you predict the outcome of your campaign. For example, WealthEngine’s Gift Pyramid Model can automatically build a pyramid and predict campaign success.

In that sense, modeling is predictive based on custom insights that are deep and actionable. The model builds a specific formula for your organization’s donor base. The model generates a score against which you can compare your prospects. By doing this, the model automatically splits your list into 10 equal deciles. The top decile will represent the top 10% of prospects for your campaign. The top two represent the top 20% and so on.

Going from Fundraising Pyramid to Campaign: Practical Implementation

Predictability allows you to improve your goal-setting. With your targeted campaign, you can not only set ambitious goals but also exceed them. Follow these steps after creating your data-driven donor pyramid:

1. Segment and target those donors who are apt for your campaign. Annual fund campaigns, for instance, can focus on prospects who have the highest inclination and capacity for this type of gift.

2. Evaluate your deciles to see which ones will be most effective for your campaign.

3. Set your budget based on the number of deciles you would like to include, or include deciles based on your campaign budget.

4. You can go down the list of deciles until you meet and exceed your campaign goals.

Breathe New Life into Your Capital Campaign

WealthEngine’s modeling removes the guesswork and puts you in control of your campaign, budget, and ROI. Book a demo today to learn more!

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Related Reading

Capital Campaigns: Fundraising Strategy for Nonprofits

What to Do When You Inherit a Fundraising Campaign

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