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Strengthen Your Fundraising Appeal with the “MPI” Formula

Reprinted from the Fired-Up Fundraising Blog

Here’s a very smart, efficient way to present your fundraising appeal.

I’ve run into this format lately and think it’s extremely effective.

It forces you to be crystal clear about the three fundamental parts of any fundraising conversation:

  • How much we want to raise
  • What it will fund
  • What impact it will make

These are the three basic questions you need to answer when you seek funding.

You can’t just get away with a generic “Please help us.”

Or even worse: “We work so hard and do such good work—you should give to us.”

These previous appeals, my friends, are so very last century—and they don’t work with the 21st-century donor.

Try the “MPI Formula”:

How much money we want to raise,

What project it will fund, and

What impact it will make.

This formula works because:

It makes you define a concrete goal.

It requires you to connect the donor to something specific. You have to talk about your project and what it will accomplish.

And this formula is very compelling to donors.

Because it presents your effort in a precise, easy to understand format.

Here’s how you use the MPI formula:

“We want to raise MMMM (Money) for PPPPPP (Project) that will have IIIIII (Impact).”

Let’s break down the components for the MPI formula:

1. Define the MONEY You Seek

These days, you are much better off it you tell your donor exactly how much you need to raise.

When you are specific, you show up as better organized.

Your ask is more concrete—not some vague wish or foggy notion.

A firm goal makes your appeal much stronger.

It shows that you have done some planning and some homework.

You are defining what you want to accomplish within a certain timeframe. You have something definitive that you are shooting for.

Just about everybody in the fundraising world will tell you that you HAVE TO HAVE A DOLLAR GOAL if you really want stretch gifts. A goal inspires donors to dig deeper.

Please don’t be one of those nonprofits who say, “We need to raise as much as possible!”

Sure that may be true, but it’s not gonna inspire your donor!

2. Define Your PROJECT

What exactly do you want to fund? What are you actually “selling?”

Is it food for xxx kids? Is it yyy cleaner rivers? Is it zzzzz concerts?

Again, donors’ generosity is triggered by the specificity of your appeal.

It’s really hard to raise money for “general and administrative.” We all know how hard it is.

But you can even take an unrestricted ask for operational costs and make it more specific.

You could say:

Our facility serves over 20,000 kids and families each year, and it costs xxx to run.

We are raising xxx this year to provide a safe, nurturing place for kids and families to get the help they need. You will touch many lives thru your generous gift.

3. Define the IMPACT it Will Make

Remember what donors are really giving to.

They are giving to the change they want to see in the world.

They want to make a real, concrete difference.

Sure they are interested in the project—but they are more interested in what will happen once the project is funded.

How will the world be different?

What new joy and happiness will the donor’s gift bring to the world?

What pain and suffering will the donor’s gift ease?

This is the heart of fundraising.

Please don’t leave out the impact. It’s the most important thing you have going for you!


Everybody has to have goals. Be clear about them to your donors. Give the MPI fundraising Formula a try. Try shaping your message in this format—and then see if the dollars don’t start rolling in faster!

Strengthen-Your-Fundraising-Appeal-with-the-MPI-Formula_Gail-Perry.pngGail Perry, Fired-Up Fundraising
© 2014, Fired-Up Fundraising. Reprinted with permission.

Gail Perry is an international fundraising consultant, coach, speaker, blogger, and thought leader. You can find her at her popular Fired-Up Fundraising blog. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 25 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts and support. Her book, Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action, has been called the "gold standard guide" to building successful fundraising boards.

Topics: Fundraising