fundraising easier
Knowing what to say to inspire someone to give isn’t easy.
Here’s something that will work every time, even if you aren’t the most articulate person in the world.
With this one number you can take the pressure off of asking for money, because the ask is no longer about you.
What is it?
It’s your Core Number.

Know your Core Number

The days of asking people to give simply because you’re a nonprofit are long gone.
No one wants to give to support your annual fund, help you reach your goals, or help you fund your budget.
Donors don’t care about those things.
What do they care about?
They care about the difference you’re making in the world. They care about the lives you’re changing (or saving).
So, ask them to give an amount that means something.
Here’s where your Core Number comes in.

How to find your Core Number

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When you calculate your Core Number, you’ll come up with something that meaningfully represents what your nonprofit does.
And it’s a number that donors will respond to.
So just what is it?
Your Core Number is a calculation that includes ALL your expenses, both direct and indirect and the total number of units of service your nonprofit delivers.
The easiest way to do this is to look at your actual numbers from last year. What were your total expenses? And what was the total number of units of service you delivered?
Total expenses is pretty easy – pull a report from your accounting software of everything you spent during the year.
Units of service can be tricky and you may have to try a couple of times to drill down to the smallest unit. Basically, it’s the smallest piece of the good work your nonprofit does.
For example, an animal shelter may think its unit of service is taking care of one dog. They take care of a dog, feed it, shelter it, and find it a home. That’s what they do, right?
But let’s dig deeper.
If that shelter spent $500,000 last year running their facility (that’s their total cost) and they cared for 3500 dogs during that year, that means if each dog is a unit of service, each unit cost them $142.86
$500,000/3500 dogs = $142.86
How do you think that will work if you ask people to give $142.86? Some might give, but it won’t be an overwhelming response.
Let’s look again and see if there’s a smaller unit of service.
Let’s say that the shelter knows (because they’ve measured it) that the average dog stays 3 weeks (21 days). Let’s divide it out and see what the cost for 1 day of care for 1 dog is:
$142.86/21 days = $6.80/day.
fundrasing easier
NOW we’re talking! We’ve just found a Core Number!
Now we can ask donors to give $6.80 to provide food, shelter, veterinary care, and love to a homeless dog for $6.80 a day.
I promise you that donors will respond to that!
You can do multiples to provide other levels for giving:
$6.80 = 1 day
$47.60 = 1 week
$95.20 = 2 weeks
$142.86 = entire stay
Trust me, people will give when you present it this way. This is a tangible, meaningful amount that a donor can visualize and they’ll love writing their check or clicking the donate now button.
Here are some examples of gifts I’ve personally made in the last year that are Core Numbers:

  • $6.20 to provide a day’s care (shelter, food, veterinary care) for a homeless pet
  • $8 to provide heartworm preventative to a homeless dog
  • $12 for a day’s care for a draft horse rescued from a slaughter truck
  • $28.13 to provide food, tuition, books, and clothes to a child in Africa
  • $35 to provide food, shelter, and education to an orphan girl in India

By the way, all of these numbers are real. I find it interesting how the human mind works and that for some reason, we like the odd numbers better. An even number feels like it might have been pulled from the air and we may feel tricked that it’s not a real number. For some reason, our minds really like realfundraising easiernumbers and we love the authenticity of knowing someone actually crunched the numbers giving us an honestly represented option.
So, give this a shot. Now is a great time to find your Core Number just in time to use it for the holidays.
Once you find your number, share it in the comments below.

  1. WGCA 88.5 fm The Mix’s Core Numbers…

    2016 total expenses: $572,864.79

    Hours of operation 8760 = $65.40 cost per hour to operate
    1/2 hour 17,520 = $32.70 cost per 1/2 hour to operate

    We play 12 songs per hour, give or take.
    That’s 288 songs per day; 105,120 songs per year

    Some Core Numbers…
    Each song cost $5.45
    One hour of or 12 songs… $65.40
    Two hours of or 24 songs… $130.80
    Four hours of or 48 songs… $261.60
    One day of songs… $1,569.60

    • Love it Terry! You have some simple numbers to help people understand how they can best help you. I love that $5.45 provides a song which is about 3 minutes of joy for thousands of listeners, right?


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