At Bridge: Turning the Donor Pyramid Upside Down

The name should have clued me in … Creating a Funnel to a Strong Advancements Program. The session, enthusiastically presented by Andrea Wasserman and Sarah Schonberg, with strong shout-outs to their consultants, Campbell & Company and Lautman, Maska, & Neill, began by taking our old stand-by, the donor pyramid, and turning it upside down.

The traditional donor pyramid, like the one in the image, shows our annual fund/membership donors on the bottom, and climbing, or more likely, us tugging them,  up to the pinnacle.

But what happens if we turn the pyramid upside down —  where, as it was said in the session, gravity is our friend?

Suddenly the funnel looks a lot less daunting.  We’re going from a lot of people to a few in both illustrations, but it feels easier to slide them down than to push/pull them up.

And, if we’re making the case for direct response donor acquisition and retention to organization leadership, having the broad base at the top better emphasizes the importance of that group.  After all, they’re at the top!

Gives us a new perspective on the donor cycle, doesn’t it?

I’ve been going to fundraising conferences for lots of years and it’s always gratifying to get a new perspective on a tried-and-true concept.  I think this one deserves to spread far and wide!


– Posted by Dinah O’Berry

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