Yesterday’s Agitator post on the donor pyramid (Is it a lie?!) prompted quite a response, so we’ll stick with this debate a bit.

Commented John Sauve-Rodd (a Brit):

"Personally I find the donor pyramid of no practical use, but as seasoned US and Canadian fundraisers told me in my research, ‘It is useful to explain what we do to Board members who then leave us alone to get on with what we do’.

But then fellow Brit, Tony Elischer responded in an email:

"The latest Agitator really made me smile as Mark Rovner now joins a growing club of people who over the years have decided to ‘kill off’ the Donor Pyramid, a short term ridiculous idea that simply proves that they have missed the point!

I can recall at least three running media debates in the UK over the last twenty years where people have declared the Pyramid dead, all of which ended in a strong rallying of support from long term practitioners about the value and challenge of the pyramid."

Tony included an interesting thought paper called Rebuilding the Donor Pyramid, in which he offers a more finely parsed hierarchy of donor categories. For Tony, the underlying "guiding philosophy" should be "donor share, not market share."

On that principle both Roger and I agree 1000%.

And Lisa Sargent writes:

"In my email newsletter this month I summarized for readers a trailblazing multilevel donor loyalty program used by M. D. Anderson, a Texas cancer center that has seen direct mail revenues increase five hundred percent since it started the program. (The original article appeared in Deliver magazine.)

The best part about the program?

They offer a special club for donors that is based purely on — gasp! — longevity in giving, and NOT on any minimum donation: in short, if you’ve been giving to M. D. Anderson for five years or longer, you’re good enough for their Partner’s Circle.

Seems they noticed donors who give for a long time have this weird tendency to leave bequests. Shocking, huh?"

Nothing shocks The Agitator, Lisa!



This article was posted in: Communications, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising analytics / data, Major donors, Nonprofit management, Planned giving / legacy marketing.
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