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Lessons from a 19th century guy with a beard!

Updated: Apr 20

Italian civil engineer

If you have ever been to a Team Kat & Mouse training session, you have heard of Vilfredo Pareto.

Pareto was an Italian civil engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist, and philosopher. He was born to an exiled noble Genoese family in 1848 in Paris.

He made several significant contributions to economics and to the analysis of individuals' choices. He was also responsible for popularizing the term "elite" in social analysis.

In 1869, he earned a doctorate in engineering from what is now the Polytechnic University of Turin[7] (then the Technical School for Engineers), with a dissertation entitled "The Fundamental Principles of Equilibrium in Solid Bodies".

His later interest in equilibrium analysis in economics and sociology can be traced back to this dissertation.

He did not begin serious work in economics until his mid-forties. In 1886, he became a lecturer on economics and management at the University of Florence.

In 1889 he married a Russian, Alessandrina Bakunina. She left him in 1902 for a young domestic worker. (Scandalous!)

So, he was a very smart guy who studied hard, married…got jilted…Why do we care??

Because Pareto gave us the Holy Grail….The Pareto Principle.

"The Pareto principle states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes (the "vital few").

(Other names for this principle are the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity.)

So what do Pareto and his principle have to do with Fundraising?


Pareto principle

Upon review of your fundraising data, most people will discover that 80% of their donations come from 20% of their donors…well, we all know what happens to that 20% each year.

  • Some will find a new nonprofit that they want to support

  • Some will move out of your area

  • Some might pass away

So—What do you do to make sure you stay on the good side of this equation.

As I said in one of the very first Team Kat & Mouse Blogs…Make New Friends-But, Keep the Old!

  • Love up the key folks in that 80%. Perhaps the right questions from you will lead to the key to a better understanding of how they can support your mission.

  • Make sure the portion of the 20% that is leaving feels appreciated for all they have done so far - leave room for future contact. If there was an "issue" that caused them to leave, do all you can to mend the fence, so even if they go away-they, they don't go away mad.

  • ABP - always be prospecting!!!!!

Whether it's the first day of the month or the last, you should always, always be digging. Spend time every day to do LinkedIn research, look for support triggers in the news, and email and call new prospects.

  • Your funnel will be full- so a NO will not seem like a big deal as you have so much more that you are working on

  • As Ben Chambers always says—The best baseball players, in their best seasons, only hit the ball 3 out of 10 times. So if you are looking for 3 new donors, you might just need to ask 10 prospects.

  • I promise—It gets easier. There is a sort of muscle memory to prospecting. The mission story you tell will become more comfortable, and when you have a specific outreach goal, you focus on finding good prospects that will support enhancing your closing ratio (a blog for another day)

  • Remember—Consistency is critical. If you let yourself take a day off one time, you'll be tempted to do it again a week later -- and the week after that. Next thing you know, you don't have any new prospects in your pipeline.

  • Block time on your calendar, set the alarm on your phone, ask another fundraiser on your team to keep you honest, and write "prospecting" on your daily to-do list (TKM calls that making an appointment with yourself) -- whatever it takes to stick with it.

So, are you a fan of Pareto now??

Or does all this talk about prospecting give you a bit of a shiver?

Team Kat & Mouse is here to help.

We offer Training, Tactics, and Tools to help you ALWAYS be Prospecting!

Reach out today for a free consultation.

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