What is a Donor Pyramid?

One of the basic concepts that will take your sustainability to the next level is understanding the donor pyramid. The pyramid can be used to describe several facets of your development program. Let’s take your annual sustaining gifts as an example.

In an annual fund, a balanced mix of donors at all levels helps an organization to create a sustainable growth pattern, with donors from the lower levels of the pyramid moving to the higher level, replacing donors lost to attrition at those levels. An ideal annual fund donor pyramid would consist of these donors:


Typically, 10% of your donors will fall into the high-level category, but those donors will provide up to 60% of all donations. Mid-range donors comprise 20% of your donor base and 20% of your donations. Base donors are the foundation for your future sustainability; they represent the remaining 70% of your donors and provide 20% of your donations.

In next Wednesday’s donor development post, I’ll take donor data from two sample organizations and apply the donor pyramid to their annual program, which will highlight opportunities for each of those organizations to create a more balanced and sustainable fundraising program.