Jennifer Studebaker
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

DonorPerfect Online (DPO) Vice President Jon Biedermann and Dr. Nathan Dietz, a published scholar and experienced practitioner of quantitative and qualitative social science research, recently led a webinar analyzing the results of 2.24 million transactions and 427,000 donors over a period of years. So what did these numbers reveal about fundraising behavior?

Demographic data showed most 2017 gifts were to human services at 23%, followed by health and religious organizations. Offline donations remained the most common way to give, though online donations have increased from 4% in 2014 to almost 8% in 2017. First time givers declined from 2015-2017, but Jon noted that the recent declines in first time donors points to increased donor retention.

Not all of these findings may be surprising for the experienced nonprofit professional. However, one of the key parts of data-based decision making is allowing the data to speak. Your assumptions may be correct, but actually testing your assumptions is vital.

The most compelling insights were around the importance of thanking donors and multichannel giving. The DPO data showed only 48.5% of the donors in the data reviewed were thanked for their gifts. Over half of donors in 2017 were not thanked! The impact of thanking showed in the transaction data. While they waited longer to give again, their donations ($50 on average) were higher than non-thanked donors ($35 on average).

Here are some key steps to turn this insight into action:

  1. If you do not currently have a standard protocol for thanking donors within 72 hours of receipt, establish one now.
  2. If you have an acknowledgement process, review any messages that donors receive through your website or other channels, since this may be an opportunity to improve the impact of your messaging through customization. Ensure that the thank you message, whether mailed or email, is properly addressed and matches the campaign or fund to which they are donating.

Multichannel donors gave over twice as much as other donors over the course of their lifetime, and their annual giving average was $325, opposed to $75 offline only and $100 online only. Multichannel includes solicitation via direct mail, telephone, email, face to face, text, social media, events, flyers and newsletters. Knowing this, consider the following:

  1. Donors want to give, so make it as easy as possible for them to donate. I know from my user experience research that hard to navigate websites or poorly organized information will result in people abandoning their efforts, even when highly motivated. If you are able, invite a volunteer to do a test run of completing your donation form or donating online. Ask for their feedback, but while they complete the task, observe where they hesitate or take more time than expected. This combination of feedback and observation will help you identify the pain points your donors may be experiencing. Removing those will help guarantee that giving to your organization is a positive experience that donors will wish to repeat.

Also think about the value of wealth screening in prospecting major donors and cultivating monthly donors.

Click here to view the full webinar.

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