Chapter 8 Grassroots Fundraising: Building Your Donor Pyramid

“Nothing changes without individuals, but nothing lasts without institutions.”

—Jean Monnet


The movement for civil rights in the United States didn’t happen overnight. Dedicated leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly for years to achieve equality for all. And throughout the struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the dozens of other community and church leaders involved recognized that to have power, strength, and longevity, they needed to build a broad and stable base of support. This same principle applies to your fundraising efforts. Without a large base of individual donors, your fundraising pyramid can collapse; diversification is the key. Grassroots fundraising means that your organization isn’t supported by just one foundation, corporation, or wealthy individual; it means that you have the power of many, and the aggregate total of their time, money, and support adds up to real change.

Grassroots fundraising doesn’t necessarily mean having a large number of small donors. It’s really about having a large base of individual donors that you can count on. And if properly cultivated and stewarded, donors who start small can grow into major donors and lifelong supporters. This strategy is especially critical to the success of smaller organizations and efforts that may not have the resources or staff to pursue government, foundation, or corporate support, since anyone can reach into their community ...

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