Step 4 (continued). Membership

For the purposes of funding, building a membership base can be thought of as a continuum. You begin by recruiting people as volunteers and eventually move them into becoming members giving larger and larger gifts. This process is best represented by the pyramid of giving, shown below:

On the pyramid, groupings from smallest to largest are Estate or Planned Giving (bequests, planned gifts); Major Giving (donation from special campaigns); Annual Giving (donations from direct mail, special events, renewal programs and telemarketing) and Volunteering (help with programming and administrative tasks).

As this figure shows, the number of people decreases as you move to larger and larger gifts, which is why it is necessary to recruit as many volunteers and annual giving members as possible. Also, while this figure focuses on financial benefits from the different levels, don't forget that people at each level come with many other resources, including another voice for your project, special skills, and in-kind assets that may not be represented in your board or staff.

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