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Finding those $1G society donors

Donations of any size are welcome, but receiving a donation from what is called a Society Donor, those who make big donations, can be especially helpful in the fundraising enterprise.

During the 2013 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits, George Durney and Page Bullington of Marquette University discussed the concept of earning the society donor, a careful, dedicated program of cultivation. Durney and Bullington based their remarks on surveys taken at 12 institutions of higher learning over a 20-year period. They offered the following reminders:

  • Have patience. On average, it took 13.2 years for a donor to make a first $1,000 gift.
  • Keep donors engaged and giving. Those who gave $1,000 in fiscal year 2009 gave in about 73 percent of the years they were on file.
  • Have a cultivation plan. Some 57 percent of donors made a first gift of less than $100.
  • Establish donor potential. The higher the first gift, the quicker they became a higher-level donor.
  • Remember there are no small donors, only small gifts. Of those who eventually gave $1,000, a $1,000 first-time gift donor did so at about a 30 percent faster rate than a $1 to $24 donor. Only 7 percent of the file was a $1,000 gift or more.

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