In this series, the DBD Team will take a deeper look at some of the axioms we use when working with our clients. In today’s blog, Peggy reflects on our axiom: “The Best Predictor of Future Giving Is Current Giving.” To read other axiom blogs, click here.


    In the course of raising funds for a nonprofit, church or school, have you ever heard anyone say: “We don’t want to bother that donor with an annual gift. We’re saving them for capital.”

    There are several potential problems with this thinking. If we’re “saving” donors for the big ask, we are losing the chance to engage them in our cause ahead of such a major appeal. An annual gift is often the entry point into a donor relationship.

    Here’s another problem with this thinking: we’re assuming we know a donor’s capacity to give. We’re telling ourselves that asking for a large gift will deplete their assets and impact future giving.

    In reality, we can’t know someone’s capacity to give. High capacity individuals in our communities are very often philanthropic and understand the broader need of annual and capital giving to improve their communities.

    The best predictor of future support for your campaign is past support of your organization. Consistent giving, even at a lower level, is a sign of deep and committed support to your mission. And the proper stewardship of an annual gift is a great way to deepen a donor relationship.

    That future support doesn’t happen automatically though. How are you cultivating these donors? Engage them in outcomes, in activities or on your board. Or consider simply visiting with them to gain their perspectives on various issues in the community. Thank them better than any other organization they’re involved with.

    Even if you understand this, there may be others on your staff or volunteer leadership who don’t. It’s imperative that we train our key stakeholders to understand the importance of this concept, because they may be withholding potential donor names out of the misguided desire to “save” them for a later day.

    So think about these questions in regards to your donors (including event sponsors):

    • How are you engaging your higher-level donors throughout the year?
    • How are you going above and beyond to thank them?
    • Is your relationship genuine or are you checking off meetings?
    • Who have you identified as a key capital donor? What is your plan to meet them (feasibility is a great first step) and to engage them in conversations around needs of the community and where your organization may fit in?

    Raise the bar to your approach to donors. The day of one gift and the donor is gone is over – unless you let it happen! Donors enjoy being “part of the team”. Engage them, listen to them, and enjoy your new friendships with people who can make a huge difference for your community.

    Posted by Peggy Vinson
    Peggy Vinson

    Written by Peggy Vinson

    Since joining DBD in 2005, Peggy has coached executive staff and volunteers on increasing the effectiveness of their fundraising efforts. Peggy’s prescriptive approach focuses on the organization’s strengths and challenges. She meets her clients where they are, helping all to grow their fundraising skills. By developing strategic, measurable plans and skill sets, Peggy helps organizations not only meet their goals this year, but increase their capacity for the future.

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