When to Use Suggested Dollar Amounts in Nonprofit Fundraising

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In the world of nonprofit fundraising, there’s been much debate about whether or not suggested dollar amounts work.

At IPM Advancement, we believe the answer to this controversial topic is not black or white. Rather, the key to using suggested dollar amounts effectively is to remember who we are speaking to.


Donors Care about Impact

Donors give to your nonprofit when they believe their contribution will be used to make an impact on a cause they care about. Your first job is to give context for the suggested dollar amounts and explain how the donor’s contribution will make a difference.

Whether donors are contributing to a general fund or to a more specific program or service you provide, most want to see evidence of the cause and effect. They want to know that what they are contributing has a serious impact for the recipients of your nonprofit’s services.

Language like “Just $40 will provide food for two families for a month” can go a long way in helping a donor identify the level of giving that’s right for them.


Treat Prospects and Donors Differently

For prospects (individuals who have never previously supported your nonprofit), a range of donation options is key. More specifically, the midpoint should be the average gift that people contribute to your specific organization. What does this mean? Let’s say, for example, your average gift is $50, then a range of $25, $50, and $75 makes perfect sense.

And for donors who have already given to your nonprofit, a range actually still makes sense. However, the midpoint should be based on what the individual has previously donated. For example, if he or she contributes $75 twice annually, it makes sense to start with $75, and then ask the donor to move up ($75, $100 or $125), highlighting specific reasons via a compelling case for support, showing why they should move up.

Plugging a wide range of options into your campaign allows you to not only provide each donor a giving opportunity that he or she will recognize as appropriate to personal circumstances, but also provides the depth of his or her connection to your mission. In addition, the more giving options you offer, the greater opportunity you will have in securing their support at even higher levels in the long run.


Take Care When Suggesting Dollar Amounts

Asking for donations is tough work. Suggested dollar amounts can make or break a donation, and they’re something we need to continue to seriously consider. Too many organizations are not strategic enough when it comes to setting donor levels. As a result, they are missing out on key donations.

Remember: your solicitation must be personal. After all, your organization’s supporters are people first, donors second. Make sure they feel confident that you recognize this very important concept.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

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