Strengthen Your Fundraising Appeal With the “MPI” Formula

money tree

Here’s the formula for the money tree!

Here’s a very smart, efficient way to present your fundraising appeal.

I’ve run into this format lately and think it’s extremely effective.

It forces you to be crystal clear about the three fundamental parts of any fundraising conversation:

  • How much we want to raise
  • What it will fund
  • What impact it will make

These are the three basic questions you need to answer when you seek funding.

You can’t just get away with a generic “Please help us.”

Or even worse:

“We work so hard and do such good work – you should give to us.”

These previous appeals, my friends, are so very last century – and they don’t work with the 21st century donor.

Try the “MPI Formula:”

How much money we want to raise,

What project it will fund, and

What impact it will make.

This formula works because:

It makes you define a concrete goal.

Define the money you want to raise and the impact it will make in the world.

Define the money you want to raise and the impact it will make in the world.

It requires you to connect the donor to something specific. You have to talk about your project and what it will accomplish.

And this formula is very compelling to donors.

Because it presents your effort in a precise, easy to understand format.

Here’s how you use the MPI formula:

“We want to raise MMMM (Money)  for PPPPPP (Project) that will have IIIIII (Impact).”

Let’s break down the components for the MPI formula:

1. Define the MONEY You Seek.

These days, you are much better off it you tell your donor exactly how much you need to raise.

When you are specific, you show up as better organized.

Your ask is more concrete – not some vague wish or foggy notion.

A firm goal makes your appeal much stronger.

It shows that you have done some planning and some homework.

A firm dollar goal inspires gifts.

A firm dollar goal inspires gifts.

You are defining what you want to accomplish within a certain timeframe. You have something definitive that you are shooting for.

Just about everybody in the fundraising world will tell you that you HAVE TO HAVE A DOLLAR GOAL if you really want stretch gifts. A goal inspires donors to dig deeper.

Please don’t be one of those nonprofits who say “we need to raise as much as possible!”

Sure that may be true, but it’s not gonna inspire your donor!

 2. Define Your PROJECT.

What exactly do you want to fund? What are you actually “selling?”

Is it food for xxx kids? Is it yyy cleaner rivers? Is it zzzzz concerts?

Again, donors’ generosity is triggered by the specificity of your appeal.

It’s really hard to raise money for “general and administrative.” We all know how hard it is.

But you can even take an unrestricted ask for operational costs and make it more specific.

You could say:

Our facility serves over 20,000 kids and families each year, and it costs xxx to run.

We are raising xxx this year to provide a safe, nurturing place for kids and families to get the help they need. You will touch many lives thru your generous gift.

3. Define the IMPACT it Will Make.

Remember, what donors are really giving to.

They are giving to the change they want to see in the world.

Your dollar goal, your project and the impact all build up to a top-notch appeal!

Your dollar goal, your project and the impact all build up to a top-notch appeal!

They want to make a real, concrete difference.

Sure they are interested in the project  – but they are more interested in what will happen once the project is funded.

How will the world be different?

What new joy and happiness will the donor’s gift bring to the world?

What pain and suffering will the donor’s gift ease?

This is the heart of fundraising.

Please don’t leave out the impact. It’s the most important thing you have going for you!


Everybody has to have goals. Be clear about them to your donors.

Give the MPI fundraising Formula a try.

Try shaping your message in this format -and then see if the dollars don’t start rolling in faster!

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

PS: Today’s the last day for my January INSIDERS special promotion.

We’re offering a 25% discount on over 65 trainings with the TOP gurus in our business – and for all the cutting-edge classes we have coming up in 2014!

You can find out more about the INSIDERS here.

And if you think these strategies can help you raise more money, then come on and join us!

  • Jim

    Excellent as always!

  • Claire Axelrad

    Great post Gail. I ALWAYS use this formula and can testify to its effectiveness. I frame it somewhat differently: 1. Need/Opportunity; 2. What we do to address it, and 3. How YOU can help. It works like gangbusters!

  • gailperry

    Hi Claire, that’s terrific. Love your layout too! Folks who are reading – Claire has a terrific blog full of great resources! Best, Gail

  • Claire Axelrad

    Thanks Gail!!

  • Libby Villavicencio

    Of course you nailed it again Gail! I raise funds for a small college and this is how we frame requests:

    1. What is the project?

    2. How much money do we need?

    3. When do we need the money?

    4. How will it be spent?

    5. What is the project

    6. How many students will the
    project impact? Which students?

    7. What are the results for the
    college and/or students?

    8. When will you come back and
    report the results?

  • gailperry

    Libby – I bet you are really successful too aren’t you? : )

  • Libby Villavicencio

    We’re getting there!