In an article called "With Sudden Wealth, the Desire for Sudden Impact," Katie Hafner quotes Peter Hero, senior adviser at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, as saying: "I hear over and over: 'I want to do something that makes a difference. Not just a big charity that everyone knows about.'"
Think about that statement for a minute. It's easy to assume that the big charities have all the fundraising advantages: high visibility, a full development staff (rather than a harried part-timer), and the resources to bring about measurable, even headline-grabbing change.
But within these organizations' (relatively) big budgets, it appears some donors feel their donations are getting lost. That's a lesson for the larger charities, of course, but even more important, it's a source of encouragement for the smaller ones.
If you can show prospective donors that they'll be directly responsible for, say, a first-time local initiative, a measurable expansion in your services, or simply results that you can point to (as in, "your donation went to save THAT stretch of beach"), you may win their support when others wouldn't.