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Newton's Laws of Fundraising #84 - Sometime's They'll Jump on the Bandwagon!

There it was. A bandwagon gift!

You may have grown up believing that if you brushed and flossed every day, cleaned your plate, said your prayers, gained your CFRE, wrote the thank you notes, held your mouth right and said, “yes please and no thank you” to your Board President that SOME fine day, you might get a bandwagon gift.

Well, I did.

I felt like Charlie Bucket calling out to all of England, holding aloft a gleaming yellow slip of paper. Only it was a check. And it wasn’t golden. Sure felt that way, though.

What pray tell is a bandwagon gift?

In the case of one of my clients, it was a gift from a prospect who’d initially said no to our capital campaign, but through the power of “bandwagoning,” jumped in and joined up.

When we met with “Gary” earlier this year he said, “You know I love what you do, but I just don’t feel compelled to support this project. I’ll give my regular gift at year-end. You can count on that.”

Who can fault Gary for that?

Still we gently pressed. “Can we keep you up to date on the progress of the campaign?”

“Sure. I’ll even keep it in prayer.” Gary’s gracious response reflected the kind of person he is. Truly.

We took him at his word.

So every month since then, we’ve sent Gary an email…or a text…or a note to gently update him on the campaign. Each time we passed a milestone—“just passed 50% of goal!” or had an amazing gift—“Redeemer Lutheran just gave $10,000!” Gary heard right away. We kept it upbeat and joyful. We, and this is important, did not ask again. We merely updated. Then it happened.

A bandwagon gift.

The check from Gary came, equaling 10% of the overall campaign goal. Cue Etta James. My heart was wrapped up in clover and life was like a song.

What can we learn from this? In a campaign, don’t count out the “No thank-yous.” Ask to keep them up to date, then do so. Write them irresistibly positive dispatches from the field. Relay that you are having all kinds of fun and great things are going on. They might just want come back to the party.

Phil Newton is a consultant that helps charities, churches and schools to raise more money, keep more money and plan for the long-term. He specializes in grants, planned giving and staff/board training. Information on his firm can be found at

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