The New Giving Tier

Photo by ray sangga kusuma on Unsplash

There are different types of philanthropists. There are philanthropists who give to increase their social connections, increase their impact on the world, improve their social status, or maybe for religious/spiritual reasons. Each of these different motivations is important to identify when considering how to make your philanthropists repeat donors. Individual donors are becoming the primary funding for many organizations, and that means smaller scale givers. Government grants are on the decline, while in-kind and micro-donations are on the rise. We often incentivize donors through Giving Tiers. These tiers give donors rewards based on how much they give to non-profits.

The Importance of Giving Tiers

Giving tiers are a classic way of allowing your donors to feel valued and recognized. If you can make your donors feel valued and recognized more than likely they will give again. Non-profits don’t just have these tiers for their annual gala, but have them throughout the year to highlight their most valuable donors, and to see trends in donors who are also increasing their contributions. Tracking this can be crucial to seeing your donors for who they are and understanding how they give.

Giving Tiers for Donors

There are three major reasons people give: To support a cause they want to see make an impact, to receive a tax deduction, or for social recognition or social pressure. Giving can be organized in a way that allows all donors to feel that their giving desires are met. Your giving tiers can explain how much impact their dollar made, ensure the donor that they are being adequately recognized and thanked, and also confirm that the donor is going to receive their tax deduction.

There are, however, three forms of giving tracked by the global giving index. There are financial donations, random acts of kindness, and volunteering. The new age of giving tiers should account for all three of these, and, at minimum, account for volunteers and donors. The newest form of giving tiers that are sprouting in non-profits are volunteer tiers.

The New Giving Tiers for Volunteers

Just as donors have their values for giving, so do volunteers. Volunteers give their time for six different reasons according to Public Relations As Relationship Management by Eyun-Jung Ki, Jeong-Nam Kim, and John A. Ledingham: To express their values, to understand themselves or others, to improve their career/profession, to socialize, to feel like they’re making a change, or to get away and work through personal issues. Providing tiers that account for these desires could not only increase the repeat donation of time from your volunteers, but could also increase giving. This is why having volunteer tiers will be a bigger innovation within the non-profit industry than donor tiers.

Why Volunteer Tiers will be bigger than Donor Tiers

Due to changing economic circumstances in the US, more people are able to give their time rather than their dime. This trend is projected to increase as younger generations become more active in supporting the non-profit sector through volunteering, and the closer we arrive at another economic lull. However, we often hear the aphorism, “Time is money.” For the non-profit industry, it couldn’t be truer. Every hour that a volunteer gives, can be traced back to a metric that will either help a non-profit create more impact or increase their fundraising. Having volunteer tiers incentivizes your volunteers to continue giving their time. However, in sales, there is an understanding that the average sale requires eight touches with a client to make a conversion. This is the same in asking volunteers to give money. If you can create volunteer tiers, you can increase the amount of times and touches you have before asking for a donation. In addition, during their eight times volunteering, you will receive their time and dedication to your cause and non-profit. Creating volunteer tiers and then asking your volunteers to make a donation will create superstar givers!

Ways to set up your own Volunteer Tiers

This innovation can be simple to set up, but difficult to track. Create tiers in accordance to how an hour of time from a volunteer could impact either your non-profit or the cause you’re solving. Then determine how much impact you would want to see from a volunteer on average. Set the bars above the average, and have people reach for these goals. Unfortunately, there are very few ways to track volunteer hours, besides pen and paper. Requiring volunteers to track these on their own could also result in false hours, or inaccurate data. The application Volunetix, allows volunteers to track theses hours through a third party, and for the non-profit to receive even more information about their volunteer experience. Utilizing their time clock system, you can track your total hours and impact of volunteers and later use these same metrics for grant writing and fundraising — increasing the return from your volunteers. The more information you can gather about why your volunteers support your cause, the more chances you have to reach the eight touches for a conversion.

In conclusion, the non-profit industry will see a shift in the rewarding structure as younger generations give more time to the causes they support. We will see all non-profits changing their Donor Tiers and adding new Volunteer Tiers. Non-profits can easily anticipate, and adapt to this shift before it comes. The results of adapting early will not only increase the amount of giving that can happen in the industry, but will see an increase in the volunteer retention, impact, and giving.

What do your volunteer tiers look like? If you don’t have them, send an email to the author at and let’s increase your fundraising!

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