The Three Types of Gifts

November 23, 2018

For the third time in four weeks, I’m going to quote Jason Lewis from his book The War for Fundraising Talent. (Can you tell I like his book?) Lewis writes about three distinctive types of gifts:

  1. TRIVIAL GIFT (I call this the ‘bugger off’ gift.) An example of this is asking people to support you in an event. These gifts tend to have little impact on our lifestyle. Lewis quantifies this by stating “for some, a trivial gift may be equal to our monthly cell phone bill or the cost of dinner out at a nice restaurant.” I call these the bugger off gifts — what is the least amount that I can give you so that you go away?
  2. MEANINGFUL GIFT Lewis writes that this gift “reflects an interest in (and a commitment to) the cause, and generally requires some planning before it is given.” He further quantifies the gift — “For many of us, this contribution can be anywhere between a new car payment and several mortgage payments. While we may give any number of smaller gifts throughout the year, few of us can give three or four meaningful gifts each year.”
  3. SIGNIFICANT GIFT These are often complex, multi-year commitments. Lewis states that these gifts could account for two-thirds of a household’s total annual income. These gifts tend to be made from capital assets as opposed to cash flow income.

Meaningful gifts are five to ten times that of a trivial gift, and significant gifts are consistently ten times or more that a meaningful gift.

He concludes with “Identifying these gifts for ourselves reinforces the point that organizations receive trivial gifts every day, genuinely believing they are meaningful and that they will inspire the most significant levels of support.” It is incumbent on all of us as fundraising professionals to take those trivial gifts and foster them into meaningful gifts, with the ultimate goal of transforming those gifts into significant gifts. Often times, trivial gifts are just a test — what will you do (or not do) with my gift? How will you report back to me on the impact of my gift?

While all gifts are not equal, you must be cognizant of the various types of gifts mentioned above.

Until next week, folks. L’chaim