The Basics on Backers

Last month, we looked at the 5 Characteristics of Successful Campaigns.  Today we will explore another key aspect of your successful fundraiser: the people who want to fund your project! That’s right, today we are talking about backers. Whether you call them donors or backers, these are the people who share your vision and decide to invest in your ministry. So…. Who are they?How many do you need to reach your goal?

Who ARE your Backers?

Chances are, you know your backers very well. They are the people who share your values and are engaged with Unitarian Universalist principles. Many of the people who will give to your campaign are folx who already have a relationship with you or your community.

Watch out though, that you don’t assume ALL your backers are your friends or that potential backers hold all the same identities that you do. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of implicit or unconscious bias about who’s in your circle or who’s interested in funding your project. It takes conscious effort to overcome Unconscious Bias – to draw the circle wide…and then wider still, to make your outreach inclusive of everyone who might be interested in your project. There is more information on Unconscious Bias and fundraising from our workshop at General Assembly 2019

About half of the people who give to your campaign have given to projects listed on in the past- either to a campaign you ran before, or to another campaign on the site. That means half the people who will fund your campaign have never used Faithify. You probably want to help explain what Faithify is in your publicity, like this:

“ is a fundraising website for Unitarian Universalist projects by UU congregations, UU organizations, and UU individuals. Projects include youth work, justice, travel & scholarships, building repairs, staff positions, and more. Faithify is a service of the UUA.”

How MANY backers do you need?

Setting an attainable yet aspirational financial goal for your campaign is an important part of your Faithify planning process, but it’s not the only number in your planning!  You’ll want to create a idea of how many people will become backers for your campaign, then use that number to help with your publicity and tracking your progress to your goal.

Figuring out the number of people who are likely to back your project is not simply dividing your goal by the amount you think people will give, though. In any fundraising campaign, a few people will give a large dollar amount and most donations will be in more modest amounts, but by far more people. You also need to consider the ratio of how many people you have to ask to reach the desired number of gifts in each amount. If you’ve ever seen a message like this: “I need 12 gifts of $25 to reach my goal.” That is gift chart data in action! The number of backers is like a pyramid, with usually one or two top gifts, several substantial amount gifts, and many, many smaller gifts.

A gift chart is a planning tool to tell you how many gifts and prospects you will need to raise a specific amount of money. Gift charts are a tool most often used for capital or annual campaigns, but you can use a gift chart for a crowdfunding campaign, but most of the donations will be smaller ones. A gift chart helps you plan your outreach strategy and helps to see if you have enough potential donors at various levels to reach your goal. In traditional fundraising, you need three or four prospects per gift. For crowdfunding campaigns, we recommend a 5:1 ratio – that means, on average, you’ll need to reach 5 people to receive 1 gift.

SO… How do you make a Gift Chart for crowdfunding?

Let’s use an example based on the average Faithify campaign. Currently on Faithify, the average goal for successful campaigns is $4,000 and the average pledge amount is $109.  The average numbers of backers for a campaign is 41.  That is existing data based on the 410+ campaigns that have gotten funding on our website.  But this data doesn’t really help us know how many people are likely to give a larger gift, or how many small gifts we would need to reach the goal.

This online gift chart calculator makes the process super easy!  You can also make a gift chart with a pencil, paper, (and if you’re math challenged like me) a calculator. Again we’ll say the goal is $4,000:

Sample of a Gift chart showing 40 gifts: 1@ $500, 1 @ $250, 3 @ $200, 6 @ $150, 8 @ $100, 6 @ $85, 6 @ $40, 6 @ $25, 2 @ $20, and 1 @ $10. 200 prospects required to receive 40 gifts.

Sample Gift Chart (created with online tool)

We have thought about our audience of potential backers, and the top gift amount we predict we are likely to receive is $500 and the lowest is probably $10. We see that we will need to really connect with and ask 200 likely backers to realize this goal.

Adjust your own gift chart to match your goal and prediction of gift amounts you think are likely.

Another way to predict is to make the largest gift amount in your chart 15% of the Goal and then build the chart downwards by cutting the gift size in half and doubling or tripling the number of gifts at each level.

Traditional fundraising plans for the top gift amounts to make up most of the goal, but crowdfunding is a grassroots effort! In this example, the top gift makes up only 13% of the goal. When getting ready for a Faithify campaign, count on many smaller donations to make up the bulk of your fundraising.

Now you have a new tool and framework for planning your Faithify campaign to think strategically about publicity, outreach, and tracking your progress! Tune in next month when we’ll delve more deeply into vital tips for backers: What MOTIVATES them, how to ASK them, and most importantly, how to THANK them!

You’ll find other helpful information about how to create and run a Faithify campaign on our FAQ and How to Post a Campaign pages. You can always contact Faithify staff for help and cheerleading!


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