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Fundraising Training Exercise: Where's the Money?

Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money

If you've ever discussed fundraising with your board—or any nonprofit board—you've probably heard the following phrases: "The economy's not good, people aren't giving," or "I don't know anyone with money." These are perhaps the two most pervasive and persistent misconceptions about fundraising. The data presented in this exercise help to debunk these and several other myths.

Why Do This Exercise?
To reduce resistance to fundraising based on inaccurate information

Use This Exercise When
Your board and volunteers lack a basic understanding of philanthropy

Time Required
20 minutes

Anyone involved with your fundraising campaign: some combination of board, staff, and volunteers

A space large enough to accommodate several small groups of three to five each


Facilitating the Exercise

This activity is structured as a quiz that participants discuss and complete in small groups. You'll need to photocopy the quiz in advance. The answers appear below.

  1. Ask your colleagues to gather in groups of three to five to work on the quiz together.
  2. Hand out copies of the quiz and give participants no more than ten minutes to discuss and complete it.
  3. Reconvene the entire group and review each question, giving the correct answers.
  4. Once you've reviewed all the answers, help the group draw conclusions. Use the following debriefing questions:
    • What surprised you?
    • What are the implications for our fundraising strategy? Do we need to think differently?

    Emphasize that in fundraising, like many areas of life, we have a tendency to project our feelings and experiences onto others, even though our assumptions may not be accurate. For example, "I give money to my church and two other organizations; therefore, everyone else focuses their giving on a small number of nonprofits." In fact, most donors support a range of organizations, as noted in the quiz.

    There are times when what we think we know is actually wrong. When it comes to fundraising, if the data trump personal experience, then we have to respect the data.

    For example, your colleagues may perceive fundraising as competitive. When you show them that a typical household contributes to five to ten nonprofits per year, they may see it as less competitive, since most people who donate tend to spread their money around pretty broadly.

Answers appear below.

  1. In a typical recent year, how much money did U.S. nonprofits raise from private philanthropy?
    1. $100 billion
    2. $200 billion
    3. $300 billionthe total varies somewhat year to year, but this is a good estimate
    4. $400 billion
  2. Here are the four sources of private philanthropy. What percentage of total giving comes from each category? The total adds up to 100%.
    1. Foundations 15%
    2. Corporations 6%
    3. Individuals 72%
    4. Bequests 7%
  3. Which nonprofit community raises the most money from private sources?
    1. Colleges and universities
    2. Health care
    3. Religious organizations receive about 32% of charitable giving
    4. Arts
    5. Social services/human services
  4. How much do U.S. nonprofits receive from all sources: private giving, government funding, and fees and other earned income?
    1. $800 million
    2. $1 trillion
    3. $1.2 trillion
    4. $1.5 trillionthis amout equals roughly 10% of the U.S. economy
  5. What percentage of American households donate to nonprofit organizations?
    1. 60%
    2. 70%some sources say 80%, so that would also be an acceptable answer
    3. 80%
    4. 90%
  6. The typical American household supports how many charitable organizations per year?
    1. 1-2
    2. 3-4
    3. 5-10
    4. More than 10
  7. How much is median household giving per year?
    1. Less than $500
    2. $500-$1,000
    3. $1,000-$2,000
    4. More than $2,000
  8. Which demographic group gives away the most money as a percentage of household income?
    1. The poor
    2. Middle income
    3. The wealthy

Sources: Giving USA; National Center for Charitable Statistics; Nonprofit Quarterly; Grassroots Fundraising Journal

Training Tip

When sharing the correct answers, use a little showmanship. For example, you can write the answers on a flip chart page in advance and fold the page in half, taping the bottom edge of the paper to the top of the easel. Then slide the edge down, revealing one answer at a time.

Other Excerpts from This Book

Andrea Kihlstedt and Andy Robinson

© 2014, Andrea Kihlsted and Andy Robinson. Excerpted from Train Your Board (And Everyone Else) to Raise Money: A Cookbook of Easy-to-Use Fundraising Exercises. Excerpted with permission of Emerson & Church Publishers.

Visit the website for this book

fundraising-training-exercise-wheres-the-money_Andrea-Kihlstedt.pngAndrea Kihlstedt is author of How to Raise $1 Million (or More!) in 10 Bite-Sized Steps. She has served the nonprofit sector for more than 30 years as a fundraiser, trainer, consultant, teacher, writer, and speaker. She has trained nonprofit boards and staff throughout the United States on effective major gifts fundraising, capital campaigns, and how to ask for gifts. Kihlstedt is cofounder (with Gail Perry) of Capital Campaign Magic, providing online learning about capital campaign fundraising.

fundraising-training-exercise-wheres-the-money_Andy-Robinson.jpgAndy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grantseeking, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada and is the author of six books. His latest include How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, The Board Member’s Easier Than You Think Guide to Nonprofit Finances, and Great Boards for Small Groups.

Topics: Fundraising