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Dec 11, 2023

Understand Donor Capacity

Modern Nonprofit Fundraising Series

This is part four in our multi-part series on Modern Nonprofit Fundraising: Understand the Three Key Pillars for Success. Read our introduction, part two about building relationships, and part three about achieving alignment.

Every fundraiser knows the truth behind the old saying “asking isn’t getting.” But it’s possible to improve the success rate of your asks by improving the quality of your research up front.

One of the three pillars of modern nonprofit fundraising is capacity, a logical extension of alignment that helps frame a funding request to a potential donor’s exact requirements. To think of it another way, capacity is a way nonprofits can “right size” their requests.

To think of it another way, capacity is a way nonprofits can “right size” their requests.

In the real world, capacity can come into play in a number of ways, including:

  • Nonprofits can ask for too little: why reach out for $25,000 when the foundation’s typical grant is double that size?
  • Nonprofits can ask for too much: no foundation wants to be the biggest donor, and no one wants to be laughed out of the room.
  • Nonprofits can also be afraid to push the envelope: If a foundation regularly gives multi-year grants, why not ask for one?

Spelled out like that, it seems like an obvious win, but this is definitely a case where the devil is in the details. Just as nonprofits struggle to find data to ensure potential donors are aligned with their core missions and values, the struggle continues once they move onto the capacity question. It takes digging to unearth what a foundation’s multi-year grantee percentage is, not to mention trying to hone in on elusive concepts like “what’s too big of an ask?”

It’s possible to assemble key capacity metrics without wasting time, scarce resources, or energy better spent on your core mission.

That’s where Impala comes in. A few clicks with Impala will surface key data, allowing for easy comparisons with nonprofit peers. It’s possible to assemble key capacity metrics without wasting time, scarce resources, or energy better spent on your core mission.

Start here (for free), join a free small group training session here, find a tutorial here, or ask us for help. Since we’re all former fundraisers and funders, we’ve BTDT. 

In the meantime, please check out Paths, Impala’s newest fundraising product. Paths is designed to turn data into intelligence and help nonprofits activate relationships and increase development productivity by supporting the three pillars of fundraising success.

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