Every organization understands the value of their very top 20 donors. It is easy to see the importance of a $10,000 annual donor. Many organizations have a cut-off as to when the “major gift” starts; often times this is $1,000. Don’t forget the value of those donors that are right at and right before that cut off. This group knows they are not your top donors but are giving because your organization is an area of passion for them. They want you to keep in touch but don’t expect as much attention. (This group is a really great group to talk with about planned gifts. If a donor can give $1,000 a year, they often have the ability to give a larger gift at the end of their life through a bequest.)
I also mention this level of gift because it often represents an underserved area. Annual Fund Directors will build a great upgrading program where they might start a donor at $100 and over a few years build them to a $500 or even $1,000 gift. In the mind of the annual fund person they are extremely important. But once they reach a certain level they are given over to the major gifts people. When the major gifts person receives this gift these individuals are all of a sudden at the bottom of their list of donors and no longer considered the most important.
Many of your “secret gem” donors who have huge capacity will start at the $1,000 level. Many donors who can give $10,000 or even much more know that major gifts start around the $1,000 level. The $1,000 gift is a trial gift to see how you will respond and whether they really want to invest their capital. If you do not pay any attention or show a value for their $1,000 gift, you will lose them very quickly.