By Lauren Pike

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It states that 80% of your fundraising will come from 20% of your fundraisers. It sounds far-fetched but we’ve found this principle to be true regardless of the type of event or its size. With such a small group of people responsible for such a large portion of your event’s financial success, it becomes critical to ensure that you are taking the very best care of those relationships and encouraging them to return to your event year after year.

As Local Operations Manager, I have had the privilege of working closely with top fundraisers across a variety of events and have found certain techniques to be very effective in keeping these amazing individuals engaged. Recently, my colleague and Programs and Participant Support Manager, Janelle Benuska, and I put our heads together to develop a tried-and-true formula for top fundraiser happiness based on our shared experiences. We call it the “G.R.I.N. Method” and it involves the following steps:

Get to know your fundraisers

Recognize their successes


Never let them go

You know who your top fundraisers are but how much do you really know about them? The first step of G.R.I.N. challenges you to look beyond the basics – their name, fundraising stats, and t-shirt size – to really get to understand what makes them tick. What is their connection to your cause? Raising funds is often a daunting task, so what motivated them to make that leap in the first place? Outside of your event, what else is important to them? Getting to know your top fundraisers is about creating an authentic connection. These individuals are important to you – take the time to make sure they know that they are more than just a number.

Almost every event I’ve attended makes the top fundraiser announcement at some point from the main stage. While this is great (and something we do too), there are so many other ways to recognize your top fundraisers’ successes. In the second step of G.R.I.N. we examine opportunities before, during, and after your event to celebrate the fundraising accomplishments of your top performers. They worked really hard to achieve their place at the top of the ranks so we believe in giving them more than a passing recognition. The best part about this step? It usually doesn’t cost much more than a little extra time, it allows your fundraisers a chance to feel proud of their accomplishments, AND it inspires others to try to surpass their own fundraising goals. It’s truly a win-win.

We’ve found that almost every top fundraiser has a close connection to the cause and their primary reason for raising so much money is to help further their favorite charity’s mission. Even then, sometimes the perfect fundraising reward can provide them with a goal to work toward and push their fundraising efforts just a little bit further. Just like you would do for your other fundraisers, don’t back away from incentivizing the very top tier of fundraisers to encourage performance. However, the standard water bottles and t-shirts probably aren’t the best fit for this level of accomplishment. Instead, the third step of G.R.I.N. encourages you to think creatively about special experiences unique to your event that would appeal to your specific top fundraisers. Creating an unforgettable experience for them will show your gratitude for their efforts and give them something to happily work toward in future years.

Once the event is over, it doesn’t mean that your work here is done unless you want to start all over again next year with a new group of fundraisers. Never letting your top fundraisers go means taking the time to keep your relationship alive even when your event isn’t just around the corner. The final step of G.R.I.N. recognizes that, like all worthwhile relationships, this one will require some attention year-round to really develop the loyalty to your organization that you want to achieve. The key is finding authentic and relevant ways to reach out periodically and let this group know that they are important to your organization as a whole – not just your event team.

Are you interested in learning more about the G.R.I.N method? Janelle and I created a short, 20-minute webinar that delves a bit more deeply into each step and provides some practical examples of how they can be utilized. If you work with fundraisers, I’d like to encourage you to find a few minutes to give the webinar a listen. I may be biased, but I think it will really help get your wheels turning about how you could better engage your top fundraisers to make sure that they feel supported and, in turn, will continue to support your event.

Listen to How to Treat Your Top Fundraisers – Fostering Commitment to Your Organization.

Lauren spends her days focusing on recruitment, volunteer management and participant support programs. Along with her team, she strives to help our clients seamlessly execute the behind-the-scenes work necessary for a successful event. When she’s not working on an event, you can find her around Washington, D.C. seeking out her next great adventure. 

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