Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is the Fund-Raising Pyramid Dead?

There isn't a foundation director in the world that doesn't believe in the pyramid. The highest return comes from the small number of top donors. Therefore, investing five, six, seven visits into a top of the pyramid donor is the routine. Working that payoff of six and seven figures is where the vast majority of fundraising time is spent.

Barak Obama may have pulled the foundation from under the pyramid. One does not raise the hundreds of millions his campaign banked by focusing on the top of the pyramid. No, not unlike the reality of his tax plan, you can't harvest that kind of bank from a few; to get there you need to get some from the many.

As time moves on, the papers and studies will begin to filter out on how Obama created his virtual on-line ATM among the less than $2,000 donors.

We as an industry have built an athletic economic system on the backs of the major donors, the networks and the PSL gift for seating priority.

The first school that figures out the way to tap the tens of thousands of members of their Mascot Nations for Obama-like contributions will become the new leader in that athletic arms race.

When they do it, they'll learn they can live without the soul-selling deals with outside entities.

At the same time, they will become dependent upon keeping the fan base happy. That kind of democracy can be a good and bad thing.

No comments: