What Makes Donors Tick – and Donate?

Each year, nonprofit organizations stand to lose about 57% of their donors – or something around $25 million in donations. However, its not just the money that marketers are letting slip through their fingers – its also data. Nonprofit software providers have found out that about 74% of nonprofit organizations either can’t, or don’t use any form of donor data to make program decisions because of engagement.

What is it that makes donors tick? What sort of channels do they like best? How are donors’ behaviors different? These are only a few of the many questions that Abila’s donor engagement report looks at. The study polled about 1263 donors from the United States, with 206 nonprofit professionals, and looks into how nonprofits think that donors do their engagements with them, and how donors actually do the engagements. It also looks into the comparison on values, attitudes, and practices that donors and nonprofits do to know where they are similar and where they are not.

According to Rich Dietz, “Donors and organizations are on the same page. However, we’re seeing a number of areas where donors and nonprofit organizations are misaligned, especially around communication frequency. Donors want the organizations they support to execute well on the fundamentals, and they want organizations to better understand them as individuals: their specific interests, communication preferences, and even the time and way they prefer to give.”

Key findings of the study include:

  1. The fundamentals of the nonprofit organizations. If fundamentals are not being employed by the organization, then there is no strategy that will make a difference.
  2. Misalignment of communication frequency among donors and organizations. Most often, organizations have the tendency to believe that there is not adequate Communication between them and the donors; in contrast, donors believe that organizations have adequate communication with them.
  3. Frequency or channel is nothing compared to critical content. It is important to note that monetary contributions are the main things that make donors feel like they are part of the organization, but it’s not the only thing that’s needed. Aside from that, there needs to be rich content to keep the donors engaged. Content could be in the form of personal stories, updates on the accomplishments of the organization, and being recognized for their contributions
  4. About half of the organizations included in the survey failed to leverage donor preferences. About 52% of donors that were surveyed felt that organizations that receive support from them take preferences when asking for donations. Most nonprofits only use single data point to drive their communications with donors. Nonprofits often miss the opportunity to connect beyond the amount donors give by using information other than what the donors willingly provide so that they could develop deeper relationships.

According to a principal at Edge Research, Pam Loeb, “We do many studies looking at donor attitudes, values, and behaviors, but never before have we been able to do an apples-to-apples comparison with nonprofit perspectives. The good news is that nonprofit professionals generally have a good grasp on the donor mindset, but there is a disconnect around frequency and other key points that can make a significant difference in their ability to put resources to their mission. Conventional wisdom is the more you ask the more you get—but at what cost?”

Article by: ianscampbell