Di Flatt's Blog

Day 4 in Di Flatt’s blogosphere – Major Donors, turning the pyramid on its head, and why are there no fat insects?

This is my personal blog so always remember that these are my views and thoughts not those of my charity. If I do say anything as ‘Epilepsy Action’ then I will make that loud and clear.

Di Flatt

Di Flatt

Well a jolly good Friday hello to everyone!




Friday is dress down day in my office – but today here I am still at home with the bronchitis – and am so dressed down I am in my pyjamas as I write this.


I slept late today, and think that is probably a good sign towards recovery.  So I hope to be back in office on Monday, actually need to be as work is piling up, and my trustee report that was due today is not done as I don’t have access to the data I need being stuck here at home.  Sorry trustees, please feel charitable to my dilemma… 


Don’t think they would want me in the office yet anyway with this hacking coughing still ongoing – they wouldn’t be able to hear themselves on the phone for a start. 


Anyway let’s get onto fundraising……




We all have them, at differing levels depending on the size of our charity and our donor/supporter constituency of course.  Your major donors may be those giving over £500 per annum, the next charity it may be over £500k per annum, and so on.  It is as with many things all relative.


But as I was saying yesterday is that in the current economy I think we need to be thinking of all our supporters as major donors regardless of giving levels.


We all know the seven steps of major donor fundraising (and if you don’t then go find out).  The usual fundraising pyramid, the need to ensure you pitch for your largest donation first etc etc, for the top of the pyramid.


Usual pyramid of course looks something like this.



£1m   £1m

£500k £500k £500K

£100K £100k  £100k  £100k

£50K£50k  £50k  £50k  £50k  £50k

£10K £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k  £10k

£2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k   £2k

£100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100

£100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100 £100

 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £11 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1  £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1 £1


It is easy to use this pyramid when you are talking about or to the big major donors.  Every major donor wants to feel they are at or near the top of the pyramid – human nature. 


Well I have been having some thoughts on this – why should all our £1 donors at the bottom of the pyramid not feel as important as those £1m givers at the top?  I always try to remember that giving is relative to what we have to give, and thus one person’s £1 could be as significant an outgoing to another’s £500k.


At the end of the day we all want to feel good about our giving.  It is a rare human being who is totally philanthropic – we all want some sort of return.  We all want to ‘feel’ that we have done something good, made a life better, given someone a chance, changed the world.


We need to also get this across to the smaller donor to make them feel like a major donor.  We must never leave them feeling that their £1 wasn’t worth very much, we need to show them that every £1 is worth a huge amount to our beneficiaries or cause.


So this is what I think and am using and saying in my everyday fundraising and world changing antics.


I think it is time to turn the pyramid on its head!


Every single donation to our charities is important from the £1 donation to the £1million + donation, as I said yesterday.  So how do we demonstrate this worth to our smaller donor so that they ‘feel’ that they have done something major?


Remember what I said yesterday about how by myself I am alone, with supporters we become a queue, then a crowd then a community.  Well this approach also lends itself to my new way of thinking regards the pyramid.


So here is my pyramid turned on its head – bear with me I know visually it doesn’t look much like a pyramid on here – scroll down to the £1 donor and then read upwards.


The benefits and changes we have effected for future generations – FOREVER.


The economic benefits to our country(ies)/the treasury: through improved education, families being supported, young people gaining employment, people staying in employment, improved health outcomes leading to reduced hospital visits, people being enabled to contribute back to their communities –  so much we could each list dependent on the work of our organisations.


The indirect beneficiaries, children, parents, wider family, friends, communities, employers, countries – that benefit from the work we have done with our direct beneficiaries.


The outcomes of our work for beneficiaries: improved lifestyles, improved chances, better education, increased employment opportunity, medical cures, better health, improved environment, and so on.


The direct beneficiaries of our work.


Charity/not for profit.


£1 donor



By turning the basic pyramid on its head we can demonstrate to every single donor that they are absolutely pivotal to our work, to our beneficiaries, to changing lives, and improving environments, to improving things for future generations, for changing the world – forever !


I think I am going to call this the ‘cumulative pyramid approach’ © Di Flatt Feb 2009


Every single one of my £1 donors is effecting change – and I for one am grateful for every single one of them.  Thank you!




Now in terms of being careful with resources – I read a funny piece recently in a book a friend bought me for Christmas.


The piece is titled ‘Why are there no fat insects?’


Well the reason there are no fat insects is that “insects actually have their skeletons on the outside so they simply can’t get fat.  The way insects are constructed doesn’t give them licence to overeat; having their skeletons on the outside means that if they do scoff too much they explode.  Not a pretty thought.” (Why Girls Can’t Throw, and other questions you’ve always wanted answered, Mitchell Symonds 2005)


This got me thinking about my fundraising expenditure budget – as I guess this is my ‘skeleton’.


In years where the economy has been kind to charities we have regularly expanded our budgets to do new and extra things to bring in income – certainly if I figured I could bring in more money than I was spending then I would do it.


But after reading the insect piece I am wondering if perhaps this year I really do need to stay within my ‘skeleton’ – do only the things we have planned in already and stay very carefully within my ‘skeleton’ budget.  It is certainly a question to ponder.


In this climate risk analysis of new and additional things needs very careful consideration, if we do anything that doesn’t bring in a good ROI then we will have wasted valuable staff time and resources.


Hence my current mantra is ‘focus on the money’ – my poor team are probably bored of hearing it.  But at the end of the day the only reason a fundraising team exists is to generate income to enable the charity to do the work it needs to do.


So I am not saying don’t do anything new per se – but if you do decide to push that ‘skeleton’ make sure you have done your risk analysis, test it, and focus on the money. 


I am certainly not going to be doing those things where in previous years I would have said, ‘well it won’t raise much money but will raise lots of awareness’.  No – this year is all about income generation.


So fundraisers


·         turn your pyramid upside down

·         consider staying within your ‘skeleton’


and remember every day to


  • ‘focus on the money’.


So have a good weekend, and I shall sign on once again next week with my next thoughts.


Every £1 donated to charity goes towards changing someone’s life or positively changing our environment. My charity www.epilepsy.org.uk, and every charity – we need you.

Di x


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s not forget that many of those who make a donation of a lower $ (or pound) amount, are actually giving more of their own relative $ worth and therefore they deserve at least as much recognition, thanks and attention as high value donors.

Comment by Kathryn Hill

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: