Little Fish, Big Fish: Why asking for $1 is just as important as asking for $1000

It’s easy to get distracted by the “big fish” – the small number of supporters that empower your mission through large donations. But if you spend all your time wining and dining them and neglecting the little fish, you are doing your nonprofit a huge disservice. 

The donor who gives $1 may end up being just as much of an anchor to your organization as the big fish that gives $1000.

That’s because just $1 can get your foot in the door.

The idea behind getting your foot in the door is that little commitments can turn into big ones. The theory goes that a small agreement can create a bond between the asked and the asker. Even if the person asked only agreed to an inconsequential request, they are much more inclined to agree to the next one. People often feel an obligation to act consistently with their earlier choices. 

In short, it’s a lot easier to get the person who has already given you a buck to eventually give you more money than it is to get someone who’s never engaged with you to donate a large amount.

So how do you take the person from donating $1 to $1000?

Three steps:

1. Engage

Ask them to like you on Facebook, Tweet about their donation, or sign up for a newsletter. These are low-level commitment items that will still keep you on their minds and in the familiarity-zone.

2. Cultivate

Treat them like a valued part of your network. Invite them to fundraising events that get supporters in the same space together, whether it’s a fun run or a fancy gala. This also helps build community.

3. Ask for more

Now you can move in for the larger commitment. They know you, they feel comfortable with you. They’re not put off when you approach them with a big request. In fact, they’re ready and willing.

Eventually, if you do things right, the little minnow will grow into a big fish.

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