Cygnus Donor Survey 2012

June 25, 2012 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

The latest issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (June 28) and my previous blog posts have some great information on fearless fundraising ideas. Recently the philanthropic conversation has been around the recent release of the Giving USA annual reportI have been more interested in the why and how of moving forward fearlessly, than the statistics. ‘Cause somethings gotta give! 

In addition to the Giving USA report, the Cygnus Donor Survey: Where Philanthropy is Headed in 2012? was just released by Penelope Burk and company.  Raymund Flandez wrote a great article and summary on the Cygnus survey.

No big surprise donors want to hear about (strong) RESULTS.  I don’t find this particularly groundbreaking news. The pleading of needs/wants or “bad economy”  has never been the basis of good fundraising. But how we share results with donors has and will continue to change.

“Showing how a not-for-profit has adapted in order to remain successful during the recession is a constructive argument that speaks to innovation and cost-effectiveness,”
says Penelope Burk, President, Cygnus Applied Research

Survey findings and 

  • my thoughts:

Donors under 35 are interested in engaging their peers and others who share their concerns and they are more willing to give to new causes.

  • This has been proven by organizations like Charity: Water. See my blog post on the Nonprofit 2.0 conference and Charity: Water fundraising theory and donor engagement that proves this point.

Monthly giving may be overrated and are not necessarily going to be your next major donors. The survey says donors may feel disconnected from giving because they are not writing a check or giving on line regularly.

  • If a donor is disconnected, why is that? I would contend this is an opportunity to be a fearless fundraiser and try new/old ideas.
  • How are we thanking these donors? Better question, let’s ask them how they want to be thanked. What kind of information would they like to receive? Results? Pictures? Stories? Monthly, quarterly, annual thank you notes with updates? Ask and ye shall receive.
  • Are some monthly donors actually major donors, but not showing up on dashboards or individual giving reports? Fix that now!
  • Make sure monthly donors know the importance of their regular giving (it all adds up at the end of the year). Ask, “If all our monthly donors stopped giving, what would happen?” Share the importance of their giving to the organization, programs, clients, and community?
  • What is the strategic plan to upgrade these donors? Are you seeing them face to face? I KNOW a blasphemous fundraising question. At the very least are your calling them regularly?
  • Create a special electronic “news”, white paper, report focusing on results to share with these donors.

Organization websites are key! The Cygnus survey found 62% of donors go to a nonprofit website for information and almost 50% said they made a gift online while on the website.

  • I have always said the website is the core of all nonprofit communications. An organizations e-news, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and online appeals need to go back to the website. AND the website needs to engage from home page through to donate now (a trite button we should change!) Don’t let your donate page end up the lost leader of your website. Your Google Analytics will tell you where you are losing (and gaining) ground with your visitors – and I always assume anyone visiting is a current or potential donor. The website needs to be updated with fresh content on a regular basis.

Too many solicitations bother donors. Worse than this, when donors asked to be solicited less, some organizations did not respond.

  • I don’t think any experienced fundraiser with intuition doesn’t know the double whammy this has on giving.  I have always counseled my clients – when they receive complaints, questions or requests, respond quickly and honestly. If someone wants off a list – take them off. No questions asked.  In addition, we usually include the date and amount of last gift in appeals – so a donor knows, we know, we all know the when and how much of their last gift. This is a much different ask than just sending an appeal asking for more money.

That’s my take, what do you think?

Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising, Nonprofit Research, Resources You Can Use!. Tags: , , , , , , .

Best Friends Animal Society LA and Pergo Video I remember…..

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