Thursday, May 7, 2015

Aligning Strategy with Donor Preferences

I'm a big fan of changing the way we work. I think that far too often we build programs for donors without obtaining their feedback about the work we do. It's all very obtuse. Recently, Abila released a study on donor engagement. You can find the complete results here. Some of the observations are really astute and I think directly apply to our work in donor relations. 

Here are some of the most interesting data points I thought I would share with you:

Donors feel most engaged when they give and volunteer, kind of seems like a no-brainer, right? But look at the yellow- Thank you notes and personal stories are right up there! Woo hoo! Can you imagine what would happen if we told a story in a thank you note? Also look at how low of a score events are receiving. This underlines my point that most events we hold are not donor focused. 

Here's a chart broken out by generation and how they feel most involved and what kinds of organizations they're supporting.

This is a great graphic that shows by generation what is most important about the organizations they give to. Again, there's donor relations right at the center when we talk about using money wisely, and support making a difference, in other words: impact.


How are you listening to your donors to determine their preferences? Is their behavior driving your strategy? I'll give you a tangible example of us missing the mark. Last year the ice bucket challenge was a social media phenomenon. We gave online, we challenged via facebook and video, we communicated digitally. Yet two weeks ago I received a direct mail piece from the ALS foundation asking me for a donation to help recreate the ice bucket challenge through my gift in the enclosed envelope. Wait, seriously? Yup. 

Missing the mark is easy to do. How are you avoiding turning your donors away in droves? Are you listening? I look forward to your comments.


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