What do we do about giving levels? Should we add them? | npENGAGE

What do we do about giving levels? Should we add them?

By on Jan 20, 2012


Dear Amy,

We go through this debate every year, should we add giving levels to participant pages?  Last year we decided to leave them off.   I’m not sure if giving levels make a difference, we saw a nice increase in 2011 without using them.  Needless to say we’re having the giving level debate again.  What’s your take on giving levels?

Thank you,
At an impasse in Florida

Dear At an impasse in Florida:

I have to first say I’m a fan of giving levels.  As an event donor, I think I spend a lot of time deciding what to give and I appreciate the direction giving levels provide.  Participants usually don’t ask donors for an amount, so you as the organization can help guide donors with giving levels.

I’ve noticed that most folks have started linking giving levels to the organization’s impact.  This is something traditionally done with direct mail and helps the donor understand how their gift will be used.  Make-A-Wish Michigan has done just this.  When I first clicked on their Give Now, button I was a little taken back that they included $7500 as a giving level.  But, after reading that $7500 funds one wish, I thought this was genius idea.  I’m not sure how many folks are making $7500 donations, but it’s a great way to educate donors on the cost of wishes. It’s something I’ve wondered about.

Giving levels can also be used to educate donors about the cause.  You can connect relevant statistics with a gift amount.  For example, the giving level could be $42 and the explanation is: every 42 minutes someone is diagnosed with XX.

Lastly, look at your data.  You had to know that was coming.  But seriously, look at the most common gift amounts. How many people are making $35, $40, $50 gifts – do you see any giving trends?  When setting giving levels, you’ll first want to understand what people are giving.  If most people are making $20 gifts and you feel your overall average gift is low, think about starting your giving levels at $25.  I feel pretty safe making the assumption that after starting your giving levels at $25 you’ll soon see that becomes your new mode (most common amount).

Here’s my final thought on giving levels. Most donors are not sure what to give, so help them out.  Inspire lower level donors to give more.  If you can move your $20 donors to $25 donors you’ll see a nice bump in your revenue.  In my opinion giving levels don’t affect high level event donors.  If someone was planning to donate $200 or $1000 they’ll still give their intended amount; even if you’re telling them why $25 is important.  But, that high level donor will be better educated about your cause and organization thanks to your giving level.

I hope this helps.  Let me know what you decided to do.



Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud, supports customers with their peer-to-peer fundraising events with a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.” Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Amy earned her fundraising stripes managing events for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Association and Share Our Strength. She shares her fundraising know how here on npENGAGE, by hosting educational webinars and speaking at customer conferences

Comments (2)

  • Amy,

    At the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, we have a similar donation page – http://cty.jhu.edu/contribute – and since its revision several years ago, we list our top suggested ask as the amount of a full summer boarding tuition scholarship, which is currently $3,900.  The minimum ask was changed at revision to be $100, as we felt that if donors wanted to give less, that is what [Other] is for.

    Every suggested amount lists what it will help accomplish (e.g. “$1,000 provides a full online course scholarship”), and not only have we had online gifts at the $3,900 level, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a few gifts at the $10K level!

    While the average (mean) jumps around a bit, I should mention that we’ve maintained a median online giving level of $100 for the past five years since that minimum ask was listed.

    As always, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

    —  Valerie Lambert
    Assistant Director of Development
    Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth

    • Amy Braiterman says:

      Hi Valerie,

      Thank you for stopping by my blog!  It’s great to hear that your giving levels are inspiring donors to give more.  I love it!  Keep up the good work and please keep sharing your success with us.

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