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Half from Twelve

I’m not sure how to say this nicely, so I’ll just say it straight.

If you're responsible for raising funds, and you don’t know this simple formula, you’re at constant risk of falling short of your goals.

What formula exactly?

I call it “Half from 12.”

Running an online campaign soon? Launching a capital campaign? Trying to plan for this year’s anticipated budget shortfall, expected to hit a whopping $400,000?

Before you start strategizing, remember this: data has shown that if you want to guarantee reaching your fundraising goal, you must secure at least half your needed amount from 12 big donors or less.

Data. Okay. Data by whom, about whom? Who says this applies to me?

We’re talking about research that comes from across the fundraising board. No matter who you are, how large your organization is, or what you’re raising the money for, it’s always the big gifts that determine the success of your campaign.

I’ve encountered this reality firsthand through my work crunching data on 500+ online campaigns.

So yes, this principle definitely applies to you.

Now: how to apply it to your fundraising?

Remember our $400K budget shortfall? If that’s your challenge at the moment, know that $200K of that 400 must come from twelve big donations (or less). By big, I mean $10,000 to $100,000 per donor.

Once you have twelve names covering that first $200,000, you can throw your campaign out to the public (preparing well, of course) and be confident that medium and small donations will bring you to your goal.

It’s just the reality. If you can’t get that first half of your funding from twelve big gifts, you’ll find it far more difficult, if not impossible, to reach your $400K goal.

This principle grows even more potent when you’re working toward really big numbers, like in a capital campaign. (Click here for a handy capital campaign online resource that helps you define how many donors you’ll need at each donation level.)

Because here’s the thing. Once they hear your funding goals, donors intuitively know what donation level they fit into. So if you can’t get the bigger guys to give at their level, you’ll have a hard time getting the smaller givers to meet the level meant for them.

Goodness, Avraham, I just clicked on that link a few lines up, and the numbers they’re telling me I need to get from just one person are staggering. I can’t ask that much from any single donor!

It’s true – “Half from 12” might force you to make heftier asks than you’re comfortable with, even from your top supporters.

But… do you have a choice? If you really want to see success in your campaign, you probably need to use this formula. And believe me, it’s better to ask respectably early on in your campaign than to run back later desperate to fill embarrassing holes.

Besides, scary as those amounts sound… is your cause worth it? This cause that you invest your sweat, energy, tears, sleep (or lack thereof), and tefillos into every single day, because you believe Klal Yisroel needs it, and because you believe it’s ratzon Hashem – is it worth that kind of money?

I thought so.

Remember that. Be confident. Hatzlacha Raba.


© Avraham Lewis & Co.