When Less is More

on in Fundraising

A recent New York Times article focused on localized micro-philanthropy – small grants targeted to a specific need in a pinpointed geographic area.

“Bite-sized largesse,” the article called the phenomenon. For example, a $1,000 grant for a volunteer fire department to purchase a device to detect gas leaks.

One might think a grant that narrowly focused is equally limited in impact. But on the contrary, these type of hyper-specific grants provide multiple rewards, as they connect donors to place. By defining the exact impact their contribution will have, a local philanthropist can easily understand how their donation matters.

The article explores the attempt to harvest summer wealth in the town of Kent, Connecticut by establishing a structure through which gifts are designated for a variety of local causes.

Second home owners often have sketchy, at best, knowledge of the needs of the local community. Offering them a granting mechanism that provides tangible benefits at an impulse-purchase price range not only takes the element of research off their hands – but it gives them a visible picture of what the community needs.

It plays on similar motivation to a “giving board” or a cash call at an event – where various service items are costed out in small increments ($500 for senior meals for a week, $200 for a sofa for the teen lounge) for donors to “purchase,” giving them a very clear sense of where their money goes.

And while general operating support is, of course, the ultimate goal of any individual giving program, sometimes a clear, tangible ask is what’s needed to gain an intro gift.

This is called an “intro gift” and not simply a “first gift” because this gift is, in actuality, an introduction for the donor to your organization’s needs and impact. Crafted right, the ask itself says “we feed seniors” or “we provide a place for teens to feel comfortable and hang out” – to prospects who may not know much about your agency.

And as with all introductions, the hope is, if we as nonprofits play our cards right, that this micro-gift will become the first step in a long, fruitful relationship.

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