New Nonprofit Metric – Dollars Raised per Word Written

Posted on June 10, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

New Nonprofit Metric – Dollars Raised per Word Written
(In grant applications, fundraising letters, workplace giving catalog descriptions, web page donation forms, etc.)

By Bill Huddleston, CFC Expert

Why is workplace giving the most cost-effective means of fundraising for non-profits? My particular expertise is with the Federal Government’s workplace giving program the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), and this analysis is based on the CFC.

If the CFC were a foundation, in terms of actual giving, it would be in the largest corporate foundation in America, with Federal public servants donating more than $270 million dollars in the 2007 campaign. (The largest corporate foundation is the Aventis Pharmaceuticals Health Care Foundation which gave $221 million in 2006).

CFC streamlined approach to fundraising:

Each year there is an application process, less time consuming than almost any grant application. Ninety-four percent of charities who apply are enrolled, and the six percent that do not get in, are in general, those that failed to read the directions. (They have been some exceptions to that, and there is an appeals process). This application we will say is about 10 pages worth of material (similar to a grant application in length, but only the campaign management sees it, the individual donors do not see the applications).

Each fall, all Federal employees are given their region’s CFC catalog, which has 25 word descriptions of all charities in that region’s CFC. The CFC non-profit is the one who writes the 25 word description. So the written material that the donor is basing her or his giving decision, is the 25 word description, plus the website if desired.

It’s not unreasonable for a small to medium size local non-profit to receive $10,000 in donations from CFC donors — certainly some non-profits receive more, and some receive nothing. More than 90% of the donated funds are designated to specific charities. It’s also reasonable for a national non-profit (not the huge ones) to receive $50,000 from the more than 250 regional CFCs.

So using those numbers: Let’s compare what is the most efficient means of fundraising:
that is awarded:

Foundation Grant Application:
10 pages, 400 words per page, Total: 4000 Words

For a $50,000 Grant Dollars per word: $12.00
For a $10,000 Grant, Dollars per word: 2.50

CFC Nonprofit:
$50,000 in CFC donations
(multiple donors, but the non-profit only had to write one 25 word description:
$50,000 in CFC donations Dollars per word: $2000.00
$10,000 in CFC donations Dollars per word: 400.00

So in terms of dollars raised, per effort expended (the definition of leverage), CFC fundraising is 160 times more efficient than the grant application (2000/12 or 400/2.50 equals 160).

With the CFC, there is an added bonus to the leverage equation:

Follow-up activities after monies are awarded:
Foundation Grants – Extensive, varies by foundation.

CFC – Zero, no red tape for follow-up. Pretty good for a government program!

The CFC charity has to apply each year, but there are no follow-up requirements.

If you would like to learn more about the CFC, please go to and request my special report about the CFC. Thanks, Bill Huddleston, CFC Expert,


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    Fundraising and Leadership Development through workplace giving, CFC = Combined Federal Campaign


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