$2.5 Million in Bequests Generated in One Year

The Progressive Multiplier Fund recently connected a national progressive non-profit organization with FreeWill, an online estate planning software platform where non-profits’ members can create a will and are encouraged to leave the non-profit a part of the estate. With a few emails, the organization generated nearly $2.5 million in bequest commitments in under 12 months.

FreeWill was founded by by Patrick Schmitt, former Campaign Director at MoveOn.org and Innovation Director at Change.org, and Jenny Xia, one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list in 2019. Since it’s inception, the company has generated $252 million in commitments to nonprofit causes. The average gift left to charities through FreeWill to date has been $70,000, about twice the national average.

Patrick and Jenny were drawn to create FreeWill by one simple fact: in the next 20 years, an estimated $30 trillion will be inherited in the United States. This is the largest wealth transfer in human history.

FreeWill solves a few important problems in planned giving:

First, under 25% of donors who leave a non-profit in their will alert the non-profit to this fact. With FreeWill, non-profits email and mail their current members, know immediately if their members made a commitment to that non-profit, and then the organization continue to build a lasting relationship with the people who’ve left the organization in their will.

Second, testing messages and techniques in planned giving is very difficult. Planned giving teams send mail to their low-dollar donors, donors include the organization in their will but don’t tell the organization, and seven years later a check may arrive. FreeWill enables non-profits to A/B test their messages in real time and know what is working in real time.

Many progressive organizations who serve low income communities assume that planned giving is not for their base. Our experience with planned giving is that the profile of a planned giving donor is someone who can afford to donate $10-20 per year to a charity, is on a fixed income, but owns a home or has some remaining retirement funds, enabling the person to leave a gift in the mid-$30,000s as a legacy to a non-profit that actually asked for the gift.

The Progressive Multiplier Fund has funds for eight non-profits to test FreeWill or similar planned giving tools. To Apply, click “Projects” in the Center of Excellence and then click “New" to create a Recoverable Grant application, and include your email list size. Feel free to use content from People’s Action’s grant application to keep it simple.

For more information on planned giving, search for Planned Giving in the search bar of the Center of Excellence.

Facebook Fundraising Grants Available

** Note — all links point to the Center of Excellence. If you don’t have access, apply here.


Organizations are increasingly using Facebook ads to target audiences that look like their donors or members (sample grants for this here). In general, organizations applying to the PMF have tested and refined their look alike models to generate a lead (someone who opts in to their email list or to being called) for about $.70 per lead. This is an excellent way for organizations of all size to scale up quickly. 

Building Look Alike Models

If you have not mastered this technique yet, a good first step would be to apply for a small grant ($5,000 or less) to build and test a look alike model for fundraising purposes. You can enter 1,300+ donors’ email addresses into Facebook to build a model, or rent direct mail lists from organizations that are similar to yours to get the sample size that you need.

Telemarketing and Email Leads on Facebook

Once organizations have created their look alike models, they use several techniques to raise funds:

  • Email Communication – many organizations incorporate the leads into their regular email streams, first including the leads in a welcome stream that culminates in a fundraising appeal, and then incorporating the leads into their normal online fundraising program;
  • Telemarketing – this is perhaps the least used and the highest ROI technique, calling people within 12-24 hours. Some non-profits with proven in-house telemarketing teams are able to generate new monthly donors for under $100 per donor, including staff and marketing costs;
  • Immediate Asks – After signing up for their email list, some organizations redirect leads to a donation landing page, where a fraction of leads immediately convert to donors. This is not the primary method of fundraising from these new leads, but provides a nice bump in income; and
  • Peer to Peer Fundraising — Some organizations are using Facebook ads to recruit people to host peer-to-peer fundraisers for their organization on Facebook.

Recruiting Leads to Facebook Messenger Lists

Several organizations are exploring building Facebook Messenger lists with Facebook Ads. Facebook Messenger fundraising is currently less competitive than email, signing someone up does not require the person to leave Facebook messenger and go to a different landing page, and the viral nature of Facebook Messenger means that the effective cost per sign-up (i.e. people who sign up from paid ads and viral content) can be as low as $.35. Accelerate Change is working with several organizations to pioneer a set of fundraising techniques on Messenger, including:

  • Real people messaging new leads to ask them to donate;
  • Incorporating financial asks into welcome series and after advocacy asks; and
  • Sending fundraising appeals during times of crisis to support multiple local organizations.

Applying for Grants for Facebook Marketing

If your organization (or consultant) does not have a track record of running Facebook ads and generating leads or subscriptions for under $1, then you are welcome to apply for a mini-grant (i.e. $5,000 or less) to run a series of tests to reduce your lead generation cost.  

If you do have a track record in generating inexpensive leads via Facebook, but do not yet have a proven track record in generating $2 for every $1 invested over time via emailing or phoning these leads, please consider applying for a grant to test the follow-up fundraising techniques.

Finally, if you have proven that your organization and team (including staff and consultants) can do both of the above, please consider applying for a recoverable grant with the Progressive Multiplier Fund.

Take a look at past grants and the key performance indicators that are tracked to measure success (and learn as we go) when drafting your grants.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission statement of the progressive multiplier fund?

The PMF finances revenue generation projects for the progressive movement.

What does the PMF do?

We provide a resource center for progressive non-profits on earned revenue techniques and offer grants for experimentation in revenue generation, as well as recoverable grants and loans for non-profits for scaling up projects.

What types of organizations do you fund?

The Progressive Multiplier Fund provides funding to U.S. based, U.S. focused non-profits and their subsidiaries. The PMF funds 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, projects housed in these entities, or LLCs in which a 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) are the only members.

To qualify, these organizations must do some policy or legal advocacy work, civic engagement, or be a media organization. In addition, the organization must work on at least one of the PMF’s issue areas.

The PMF would consider funding coalitions, but not for the purpose of those organizations acting as regranting organizations. We fund our grantees directly.

The PMF does not fund PACs, political parties, or organizations that do not meet the criteria above.

What issues do you fund?

Issue focus: The Progressive Multiplier Fund provides funding to organizations working on Clean Energy, Climate Change, Corporate Accountability, Criminal Justice Reform, Democracy/Voting, Disability Rights, Economic Justice, Education Justice, Environmental Justice, Gun Control, Health Care, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Mass Incarceration, Minimum Wage, Neighborhood Issues, Protecting Medicare, Protecting Social Security, Puerto Rico Justice, Racial Justice, Refugee Crisis, Reproductive Rights, Gender Equity, Social Justice, Wilderness Protection, Women’s Rights, Workers Rights, and other progressive issues.

We understand that it is not for a small group of people to define progressive; if the issue you’re working on is not here, please write us at info@progressivemultiplier.fund to see if your mission fits.

Please note: as long as your organization works on these issues, you fit our mission. Your particular revenue generation program does not need to be focused on any particular issue above.

If your organization does not consider itself progressive, but works on multiple issues above in a way that would be considered progressive while reaching out “across the aisle,” you may qualify for PMF funding.

What are your grant criteria?

• Your project should focus on engaging individuals who can be members, consumers, or donors (under $1,000).
• You have the right team and capacity (in-house or in-house with partners or vendors) to execute the program.
• A strong case that your program, if scaled, could raise your organization over $1m per year OR could be replicated by other organizations to generate millions for the movement.
• The PMF has the right to share lessons learned, techniques, overall results, and materials you used with ALL other progressive organizations
• Will only fund technology with grants if it is a small part of the project.

What is the Application Process?

Please follow these steps to apply:

  1. Sign Up – Sign up for the PMF mailing list to the right.
  2. Screening – All PMF mailing list subscribers are screened to ensure that they have the same progressive focus as that of the PMF.
  3. Webinar – Once we determine that your organization is a fit, you will receive an invitation to an informational webinar, where we will discuss our funding priorities and the types of grants we offer. Please have the staff who would manage this program attend the webinar.  After you attend, you’ll receive an automatic invitation to the Center of Excellence.
  4. Optional Call – One you have attended a webinar, we will send you an email offering times for a phone call where you can ask follow-up questions or share proposal ideas.
  5. Application – After you attend the webinar, you will be able to create one or more applications through the Center of Excellence portal.
  6. Future Applications – Once your organization has access to the CoE, you can apply for future grants by logging in to the CoE here.

What are the Grant Application Deadlines?

The deadlines are quarterly – January 18th, April 19th, July 19th, and October 18th, or the following business day.

Can New Organizations Apply?

Yes. If you do not have a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4), your project can be funded through a different non-profit. Either way, the review process will heavily focus on the person running the project in your organization and the stability of the new project.

I don’t have a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) yet. Can I qualify for funding?

The Progressive Multiplier Fund will fund projects housed in existing organizations that are 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, projects housed in these entities, or LLCs in which a 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) are the only members.

What Sized Organizations Can Apply?

Generally, we fund organizations with an annual budget of $500,000 or more. If your organization does not have an annual budget of $500,000, and you would like to apply for funding, please email us at info@progressivemultiplier.fund to schedule a call with a PMF staff member to see if your project would qualify.

What infrastructure or capacity is required in each organization to receive funding?

The PMF will evaluate the proposal you submit, and ask if you have the capacity to do that type of project.  For example, if you are generating interest on Facebook and calling interested people to ask them to join your organization, we would review your team’s background in Facebook marketing and telemarketing.

What types of funding does the PMF offer?

The PMF gives grants from two funds, the Test & Innovation Fund and the Growth Fund, which have different funding criteria and priorities.

The Test & Innovation Fund provides grants to nonprofits interested in testing new revenue generation models, as well as testing the replication of revenue generation programs that have worked in other organizations. Grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, with an average grant size of $10,000. Successful revenue generating projects can be scaled up with funding through the PMF Growth Fund.

The Growth Fund is a valuable resource for organizations that wish to scale up existing revenue projects. The Growth Fund provides recoverable grants and market rate loans to support organizations seeking to expand their revenue streams and have a greater impact.  Recoverable grants and loans from the Growth Fund can be as large as $120,000.

When do Recoverable Grants Need to be Repaid?

We aim to have recoverable grants repaid in full within 18 months or less. Recoverable grants are repaid monthly with all income from the project that the PMF funds until the grant is fully repaid, plus a 10% administrative fee. Your organization retains the remainder of the earnings after both the grant and fee are repaid.

Are all grants made by PMF recoverable grants?

No. The only recoverable grants we award are through the Growth Fund. Any funding awarded through the Test & Innovation Fund is given in the form of a traditional grant without any repayment obligation.

Do You Need to Apply for a Test and Innovation Grant to Apply for a Bigger Recoverable Grant?

No. If your organization has a proven track record of running a revenue generation program that generates a 2:1 return, you can apply for a recoverable grant to expand that project. But, if you apply for a test grant, and it works, we would welcome an application for a Recoverable Grant to expand the project.

How do you track what revenue comes from the project you’re funding?

For grants, we will ask you to create a separate budget in your financial software, and to track your expenses and income. For recoverable grants, we may ask you to open a separate bank account in addition to creating a separate budget and tracking your expenses and income, and have all funds from the project flow into that account.

If an organization has more than one idea to test, will you consider more than one proposal from the same organization?

Yes, but the total budget requested for the different tests should not exceed the maximum grant amount (i.e. $25,000).

Do you Fund Earned Income or Fee for Service Strategies?


Can We Use Grants as a Matching Grant?

No, the PMF does not fund matching grants.

Can We Hire Staff with these Funds?

You can cover staff costs with PMF funds, but we evaluate your grant proposal based on the leadership and team that you have in place, including your consultants, and your vendors. If your proposal does not identify the staff person who will run this program who has a proven track record of success, we are unlikely to fund your project. If you need to use funds to add additional, junior staff, this may be acceptable.

Can Grants be Used to Test Successful Techniques Used by Other Organizations?

Yes.  About two thirds or all Test and Innovation grants are used to test techniques that have worked for other organizations but haven’t been tried yet by the applying organization. One third of our Test and Innovation grants are used to fund wild new ideas that haven’t been tested yet.

Do you fund CDFI loan funds for business readiness?

We do not.

What can Grant Funds Pay for?

Grant funds should pay for the entire cost of your fundraising effort, so that you can determine if this effort can truly return a 2:1 return over three to five years. This includes consultants, vendors, tools, staff time, and other direct or indirect expenses of the project (running ads, purchasing lists, renting lists, etc).

What is the Turn Around Time for Grant Decisions and Funding?

We decide on grants within two months, and distribute funds within one month after the decision.

How Does the Budget Document Work?

Costs – Please outline the costs of the project, broken down into the different budget categories, by month of the year. The income your organization receives from the PMF should not appear in the project budget as income.  Your costs should be greater than or equal to the grant provided by the PMF.

Income – Please outline the income from the expenditures in this project monthly for 60 months following the expenditures (i.e. if you recruited monthly donors, how much money will they give in future years based on what you spent during the grant period).

How do I access the Center of Excellence?

Please follow these steps to sign up for the Center of Excellence:

  1. Sign Up – Sign up for the PMF mailing list here.
  2. Screening – All PMF mailing list subscribers are screened to ensure that they have the same progressive focus as that of the PMF and the Center of Excellence.
  3. You’re In – Once we determine that your organization is a fit, you will receive (1) an invitation to the Center of Excellence (resource center on revenue generation) and (2) an invitation to a webinar to learn more about applying for grants, if you have not attended the webinar in the past.

Who will Center of Excellence resources be available to?

The Center of Excellence is open to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations and their consultants that work on the following issues: Clean Energy, Climate Change, Corporate Accountability, Criminal Justice Reform, Democracy/Voting, Disability Rights, Economic Justice, Education Justice, Environmental Justice, Gun Control, Health Care, HIV/AIDS, Housing, Human Rights, Immigrant Rights, LBGTQ Rights, Mass Incarceration, Minimum Wage, Neighborhood Issues, Protecting Medicare, Protecting Social Security, Puerto Rico Justice, Racial Justice, Refugee Crisis, Reproductive Rights, Gender Equity, Social Justice, Wilderness Protection, Women’s Rights, Workers Rights, and other progressive issues.

You do not need to be a grantee of the PMF to have access to these resources.

What vendors, Consultants, or technology would you suggest we work with?

The Progressive Multiplier Fund does not suggest any specific vendors or technology.  However, the vendors that organizations have worked with on different projects are available in the write-ups of fundraising tests and projects in the Center of Excellence.

Can we reapply for grants?

Yes, with some caveats.

No one organization can receive more than 10% of the funds available from the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s different pools of money at any one point in time.

If you apply for a test grant, and the project works, we would welcome an application for a Recoverable Grant to expand the project.

Organizations that have had a proposal rejected can reapply with new or modified proposals (based on the feedback from the PMF).

Organizations that have not fully repaid recoverable grants are unlikely to receive additional funds from the PMF.

The PMF would give additional recoverable grants for the same project in future years if the project is succeeding.

PMF is Hiring: Senior Program Officer

Position:           Senior Program Officer: Digital Fundraising Guru

Location:          Anywhere.  D.C. Location is the Tie-Breaker.

About The Progressive Multiplier Fund

The Progressive Multiplier Fund (PMF) provides resources to the progressive community to generate innovative fundraising solutions to catalyze the growth and long‐term stability of progressive organizations.

At its core, the PMF possesses a superior understanding of small donor fundraising and earned revenue programs; provides grants, recoverable grants, and loans to organizations to accelerate innovations and their financial growth; specializes in risk management for investing in earned revenue projects; and executes a unique, compliant approach to generate both 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) revenue.

Beyond providing grants and loans, the PMF is building a Center of Excellence – a resource center of best practices and analytics to accelerate learning about small donor fundraising, member recruitment and retention, and earned revenue programs across the progressive movement. The PMF’s grants, loans, and Center of Excellence all aim squarely at testing and scaling projects that can generate millions of dollars per year across a diverse range of progressive organizations.

The Position

The Senior Program Officer partners with the President on overall strategy development and grantee selection. The Senior Program Officer will lead the work grant selection process, track and publicize best practices in non-profit revenue generation, manage marketing efforts for the PMF, and manage relationships with grantees.

The best candidate for this position will thrive in a start-up environment where their ideas will help shape a powerful institution for the progressive movement.

Core Responsibilities


  • Partner with the President to develop and implement a strategic framework, objectives, and outcome measures across the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s various funds;
  • Consult with grantees and other partners to maximize impact of projects and ensure grants are meeting strategic goals. This may include: site visits, providing operational guidance, connecting grantees with resources or support, and convening meetings of key stakeholders;
  • Review letters of inquiry and grant proposals; provide clear, concise and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding, including drafting and editing proposal summaries and progress reports for review by foundation leadership;
  • Manage internal processes and portfolio progress while ensuring appropriate documentation, grant budgeting and reporting. Improve operational efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Represent the foundation to key program-related external constituencies, as appropriate, on committees related to area of expertise and responsibilities of the position;
  • Lead the team’s annual strategy review process;
  • Manage the evaluation process of grant applications, screen applications, and participate as a final decision-maker in the Progressive Multiplier Fund’s investment committee;
  • Meet with current and prospective grantees;
  • Stay up-to-date on best practices for targeted fundraising channels; and
  • Manage the Center of Excellence, a resource center for progressive organizations on fundraising best practices.

Marketing and Communication

  • Manage webinars and online marketing of the Progressive Multiplier Fund, educating potential grantees on proposals that qualify for the PMF, and educating progressive organizations on revenue generation breakthroughs; and
  • Represent the Progressive Multiplier Fund at major fundraising, donor, and non-profit conferences;


  • Participate in the design and execution of small donor fundraising projects for the Progressive Multiplier Fund as part of the team.

Position Requirements

  • Humility, integrity, passion, motivation, and a self-starter attitude;
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience in digital fundraising;
  • Data analysis and strategic decision making, and a relentless focus on results;
  • Experience in grantmaking a plus;
  • Experience in developing a robust digital acquisition program leveraging all digital mediums to grow the program through Facebook Business Manager, Facebook Messenger, Google AdWords, and Online Marketing;
  • Proven ability to lead, collaborate with, and influence others in a constructive and inclusive manner; and to build and sustain collaborative relationships;
  • Awesome interpersonal skills;
  • Familiarly with data segmentation and analysis;
  • Demonstrated evidence of leadership ability or entrepreneurial behavior;
  • Strong written and oral communication;
  • Culture contributor: can endorse, model, and reinforce creation of the team’s culture in the areas of developing trust, showing respect, being transparent, and creating energy; and
  • Shows a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve the mission of the Progressive Multiplier Fund will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, gender, genetic information, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities, disability, membership in any labor organization, political affiliation, personal appearance, military or veteran status, or other status protected by applicable law.

To apply, please submit your letter of interest and resume to info@progressivemultiplier.fund

Fundraising Innovation: Study Shows Need for New Non-Profit Finance

Most progressive organizations can dramatically increase unrestricted, sustainable revenue through disciplined financing and information sharing according to a recent study on fundraising innovation.

In 2016, a group of fundraising innovation thought leaders conducted a six month study that unearthed a critical mass of progressive organizations that are ready to launch small donor and fee for service tests, and to roll-­out proven programs, but cannot find the needed financing. Of the 35 organizations interviewed for the study, each organization was testing an average of two scalable revenue projects. These project were primarily focused on small donor fundraising, fee for service, and certification programs. Half of the organizations surveyed could raise $500,000 more annually from proven models if they had the funding to invest.

The Results: Fundraising Innovation is Widespread, Financing is Inadequate

  • Widespread Fundraising Innovation, particularly among smaller organizations. Smaller progressive organizations are doing a higher volume of innovative experiments, which could benefit significantly from increased funding. While some of these non-profits lack the capacity to scale, there is no shortage of consultant and intermediary support organizations to complement non-profits' existing capacities.
  • Proven Scalable Revenue Programs. A critical mass of larger progressive organizations have developed scalable fundraising models that, if expanded, could raise significantly more revenue. Unfortunately, the organizations lack the financing to expand these initiatives.
  • Experimentation and Innovation. A small number of foundations provide limited grants to progressive groups to conduct scalable revenue experimentation. Unfortunately, this form of financing is neither readily available, nor abundant enough, to optimize scalable revenue testing. Strikingly, the study found that smaller social, economic, and racial justice organizations conducted a higher volume of innovative experiments that could benefit significantly from increased funding.
  • Best Practice Sharing can Accelerate Learning and the Scaling of the Progressive Movement. While organizations share some best practices, there is no progressive-wide hub where results and techniques from rigorous tests are widely shared. Indeed, because the field is changing rapidly, even general best practices around grassroots fundraising are not easy to find for organizations with limited experience.

A New Path for Fundraising Innovation and Scalable Revenue

We designed the Progressive Multiplier Fund (PMF) from these findings to provide the following three core services:

  1. Create a Test and Innovation Fund to turbocharge experimentation and knowledge dissemination. An essential component of scaling progressive groups is to fund experimentation and prototyping. When such experiments succeed or fail, the next step is to share that information across the progressive movement. Small donor fundraising needs constant innovation as older methods (e.g. on-line, direct mail) lose steam. The Test and Innovation Fund will incentivize progressive groups to experiment more creatively. The fund will ensure that a diverse range of progressive organizations are able to participate.
  2. Create a Growth Fund that leverages donor dollars. Our research demonstrated organizations need a relatively unavailable type of funding: recoverable grants. These investments are risk-­free to the grantee. Any income returned to the Growth Fund will be reinvested in future projects. The grantee would pay back the Growth Fund (or not) out of gross revenue from the scalable revenue project proceeds, not out of its general budget. All net income after the loan repayment would go to the non-profit organization. This model leverages funder dollars in two ways: First, the Growth Fund would re-grant this money several times in the future. Second, as the Growth Fund builds a track record, it may take out commercial loans against its track record and balance sheet – which many organizations are unwilling to do – using its cash on hand as a guarantee to leverage larger sums to invest in progressive organizations; and
  3. Create a Center of Excellence on Scalable Revenue. Our findings support the need for a Center of Excellence (CoE). The CoE will share best practices in small donor, fee for service, or sales efforts across the progressive movement.