Sunday, November 14, 2010

#1 factor why donors stop giving to an organization?!!

Too Frequent Solicitation/Asked for Inappropriate Amount 58.9%

Last week I received this report from Bank of America and Merril Lynch, it’s an annual report that comes out every year and the data enclosed is priceless. As I prowled through the 70 or so pages on my subway commute home from work, I read and reread the statistics but one of them was just too powerful to shake from my consciousness. Finding out why the majority of these donors stopped giving to an organization was enlightening and confirmed for me a long held belief of most organizations. We poke and prod our donors to give way too much and this is detrimental to our relationships with our donors and as a result to our bottom lines. At many organizations I have been responsible for drafting communications of all types to donors. Some are aimed to inform, some to steward, some to simply say hello. Always, and I do mean always, I have to fend off an over eager or confused annual giving or major giving officer and say, “no, we don’t need to ask them for another gift in this piece.” Sometimes it is a losing battle, but every time I fight for a space that we can have that is solicitation free. I hope now thanks to studies like this and others that this battle is much easier fought and won at my organizations. Fingers crossed and hoping for myself and others, some might say , “well if we don’t ask often enough they will forget to give to us!” This may a valid argument, but what would happen if we asked less and communicated in a more engaging and enlightening way, I am sure these educated adults will figure out how to give, perhaps on our website with its glowing gold “donate now” button the size of Texas on our homepage. I say this with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek, however in reality I am a strong advocate for communications that do just that, communicate for the relationships sake, if we do that effectively, the money will follow.

Yesterday, I received a fascinating solicitation piece from an international organization, on the front it said, “Give now and we’ll never ask you for money again!” So, I’m going to take that Pepsi challenge and report back to you to see if there is indeed truth in advertising. Finally, since next week is Thanksgiving, be on the lookout for my annual “give it and see what happens” challenge where I pick 10 non profit organizations a year of varying types and sizes and give a donation, surveying their donor relations response and their acknowledgment in the following months. The results in years past have been mixed and very helpful for me as I build my programs, next week’s blog will explore the process and the issues involved.
This study begs the question, what statistic stood out to you? Tell me about it and also feel free to comment on this post!

1 comment:

  1. What a great study and very useful when assessing my current program. The one thing that stuck out to me is the extent to which donors really want a timely acknowledgement. Now, that's not news to us but I feel at times we take the acknowledgment for granted and yet, the is the second most important factor in determining where to give.

    The interesting thing that I've found is that folks put a premium on personalization of the acknowledgement while forsaking the timeliness element. We really do have to strike a balance as a well written note is useless if the donor receives it three weeks after the gift. Thanks for sharing Lynne.