The Stereotypical Donor
Posted on 09/23/2015
- by Dan Allenby
In real life, giving patterns vary. Every donor gives in a manner and at times that are uniquely right for them. For many institutions, the majority of alumni won’t even make a single gift during their lifetime. Few will ever make a major or planned gift.
In the life of the stereotypical alumni donor, however, a giving pattern might look like this:
- Before graduation, they make their first gift through the senior class gift campaign
- 1-15 years out, they make consistent donations to the annual fund
- 15-30 years out, they make leadership gifts to the annual fund
- 30+ years out, they make a major gift or planned gift
These stages suggest a model or ideal for cultivating alumni in a way that’s more likely to be in line with their own circumstances. For example, it’s probably not realistic to expect a recent graduate to be able to make a major gift since they are just starting out in their careers and are only beginning to accumulate assets. Nor is it realistic to expect someone who has never donated before to make a major or planned gift if the institution has done nothing to build a relationship with them over time.
Encouraging people to move through these various stages of giving is often referred to as building a pipeline, and it’s one of the most important functions of an annual giving program. It begins with identifying and acquiring new donors, encouraging their consistent support, and raising their sights in a way that leads to their increased giving over time. A strong pipeline will ultimately produce a pool of prospects that have been regularly solicited, appropriately stewarded, and prepared for a conversation about a major or planned gift.
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