4 Nonprofit Fundraising Insights from 2013 Donor Survey
I regularly spotlight reputable research that can provide insight into the state of the nonprofit fundraising landscape along with trends and initiatives implemented to strengthen fundraising results. Most recently these have included Nonprofit Challenges, What Foundations Can Do, 2013 Social Media Marketing industry Report and Underdeveloped: A National Stud on Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. Earlier this month the 5th annual research report designed by fundraising expert Penelope Burke and her company Cygnus Applied Research Inc. was released titled The 2013 Burk Donor Survey (formerly known as the Cygnus Donor Survey) which provided results on ‘where philanthropy is headed in 2013’. Based on responses from 24,623 donors that have made a gift in the past twelve months, the survey included insight into various aspects of donation acknowledgements, communication and recognition initiatives. These results can be very beneficial for nonprofits to strengthen overall results as we enter a very busy and competitive end-of-year fundraising period. The following were some key takeaways that I found very beneficial:
- Giving in 2012 – Although 56% of responding donors supported the same number of causes and 43% gave more money in 2012 in comparison to 2011, it seems that the future trend is that donors will be supporting fewer causes. This is evident by the 43% of older donors who gave to 11 or more organizations, while only 24% of their middle-aged counterparts did the same. Interestingly, it was 60% of the much younger demographic that increased their giving over the same period, signaling that there is room for fundraising growth within this demographic. One main attribute that 39% of respondents gave to an increase in their support is their own financial stability, compared to 5% who cited economic uncertainty as a factor for decreasing their contributions.
Click image to go to report download page
- Gift Acknowledgements – Thanking donors for their gifts – either by regular or electronic mail – in a timely manner has a positive impact on future support. 90% of donors received an acknowledgement to their gift either very or fairly promptly and almost a third stated they would be less likely to give again to a cause if they were late in acknowledging their gift. 68% of donors are looking for thank you letters that have a personal feel and 23% would make a more generous gift if the thank you letter is exceptional. A fascinating result of the survey was 95% of donors responding that they would be thrilled if they received a personal thank you telephone call from either someone on the board or an influential organization leader. However, only 32% responded to have ever received a thank you telephone call in the past two years. Perhaps fundraisers may want to incorporate thank you outbound telephone call campaigns to donors and, if budget restraints exist, only targeted to the most generous donors.
- Communication – Preference and satisfaction in electronic communication over print or direct mail communication varies based on a donor’s age range where only 15% of the older demographic prefers electronic communication compared to 27% of middle-aged donors and 45% of donors under the age of 35. Regardless of age demographic donors expressed a high level of satisfaction with electronic communications. It’s important to be careful to not over-solicit and include an ask in every communication that is intended to inform as 40% asserted that these would contribute to over-solicitation and they would be less likely to make another gift. Social media continues to be a relevant channel of communication for nonprofits with the most enthusiastic being the younger demographic and 57% of those with an account on a platform following at least one nonprofit organization.
- Intentions for 2013 – 55% of surveyed donors intend to give the same in 2013 as they did in 2012 and 24% of the most generous donors planned to increase their giving. The study compared this to results from the previous year and did find the same level of optimism however predicts an overall improvement. An additional statistic that nonprofits should take note of is that despite the $316 billion that was raised in 2012 42% of respondents stated they could have given more. It is up to nonprofits and their fundraisers to find ways to tap into supporters giving potential and inspire them to increase their contribution. One main way the report suggests this can be done is through being “donor-centered”, where relationships with donors are built and strengthened with effective communication while keeping their individual needs in mind.
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