Wed, November 14 2012

What motivates donors? Two new studies say.

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

A new study from Charity Dynamics and NTEN - the Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study - as well as the hot off the presses Donor Perspectives Study from Blackbaud come to the same conclusions this week. 

The findings aren’t surprising but are certainly worth remembering as we go into fundraising season.

Namely (quoting from the respective reports):

1. Nonprofits that establish themselves as a donor’s top charity—the organization to which an individual feels most connected—are more likely to receive greater support from them in terms of cash contributions, volunteering, event participation and issue advocacy.
Nearly half of the survey respondents (47%) indicated that they give a majority of their annual total donation amount to their top charity. (Source: Charity Dynamics/NTEN)

2. A majority of donors (65%) reported supporting their top charity because they believe in the organization’s cause. Connected donors also do more for their top charity, with 54% saying they would be willing to talk to friends and family about the organization. (Source: Charity Dynamics/NTEN)

3. Age has a significant impact on the amount donors give, the way in which they are willing to engage, and how they prefer to seek and consume information from their top charity.  On average, total annual donations tended to increase as the age group increased. In the US, the 65+ age group gave an average of $1,403 in the last year, with the 45-54 age group close behind with an average annual donation of $1,396. US donors in the 18-24 age range donated the least annually at $463. (Donor Perspectives)

4. Of the respondents that would consider becoming regular donors, the top three motivating factors were reported to be: 1) having an improvement in their personal financial situation, 2) having a passion for an organization’s mission, and 3) having access to information that proved the impact of their contributions. (Donor Perspectives)

5. Last, mobile is mattering more and more, according to a separate study from Blackbaud: In an international study, nearly half of donors reported using their mobile phone to read emails and view websites, yet less than one-quarter of donors in each country reported using their device to make donations via mobile browser or text. Still, donors (especially younger donors) are embracing mobile technologies faster than nonprofits, according to the SONI report. The projected growth of the use of mobile technologies in marketing efforts, however, indicates that nonprofits have recognized the need to embrace mobile strategies and plan on doing so in the next year.

The bottom line?  Establishing emotional connections with donors remains paramount.

And my friend Dennis puts it well: “The donors have spoken! Nonprofits are not always meeting their needs, and are leaving valuable donations on the table,” said Dennis McCarthy, Blackbaud’s vice president of strategy. “The good news is, by making it easier for donors to learn about their organization, keeping them informed about their donation’s impact and providing multiple methods for donating, nonprofits can potentially improve their fundraising.” 

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