The “Fundraising Pyramid” refers to a fundraising strategy that can be used by organizations with limited funds and resources so that they can achieve larger, seemingly unreachable fundraising goals.

The Fundraising Pyramid – what is it?

The fundraising pyramid is a goal-setting and strategy tool that helps visually plan your group’s fundraising campaign. It is part goal-tracker and part campaign flow-chart.

The fundraising pyramid charts outreach goals and breaks them down into incremental funding amounts and donation targets that are more obtainable.

When you use the fundraising pyramid, you do not go after only one source for your total fund procurement. Rather, you structure your campaign so that a few campaigns reach out after an allotted portion of the total goal amount.

The funding pyramid is based on the concept that each group can secure one or a few large funds, some moderate awards, and many small donations. Targets and resources are then arranged correspondingly and different approaches are used to reach each funding goal.


Fundraising pyramid


Structuring the Fundraising Pyramid

The fundraising pyramid should be structured according to both target donor size/project capacity and target goal figures. The largest target amounts would be placed at the top of the pyramid, mid-level targets in the middle, and lowest target figures at the bottom. However, a converse relationship is applied to the sources of each funding. The largest gifts would be secured from the fewest funding sources, increasing as you move down the pyramid until the largest number of supporters or donors are funding the smallest part of the goal-figure.

For example:
(This example is for illustration purposes only; your pyramid should be tailored to your specific goals.)

Let’s say your organization is looking to secure $30,000 for a project.

Break this goal down into three campaign goals. Let’s say the funding is broken down in this way: $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000.

• The largest sum, $15,000 is placed at the top of the pyramid. Only one or two sources would be targeted for this funding, probably a one-time grant or possibly two.
• The mid-level goal of $10,000 goes to the middle. This will be broken down into sizable, but smaller donations – possibly four gifts of $2500 each.
• The bottom of the pyramid is left for the remaining $5000. The support base for this amount will grow again. Your group might choose to target 100 donors for $50 each, or 50 donors for $100 each.

The premise behind the fundraising pyramid is that it is difficult to raise funds by tapping only one resource for all of your money. Successful large fundraisers are a combination of target goals and sources. Where you might be able to obtain funding from one well-off donor or grant, the remainder of the funds will have to come from many smaller donations.

Using your Fundraising Pyramid

The fundraising pyramid is most often applied to donation campaigns and grants, but the same concept can be used to create a visual outline for a sales campaign or mixed fundraising effort. The basic concept remains the same however the pyramid is used – the largest segment of funding will be most easily achieved by securing it in one effort and the rest of the funding support will be targeted in smaller increments from a larger support base.

The fundraising pyramid not only allows your group’s leaders to see how the total campaign breaks down into smaller, more manageable segments, but also helps communicate that to the group’s members. In addition, the fundraising pyramid helps potential donors and supporters see how they can help, and where their donation resources might fit in to the overall plan. It creates enough opportunities for all potential donors to participate in whatever way possible for them, while providing a manageable plan for fundraising action.

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