Thursday, December 10, 2015

You Did What?

Last week, I outlined the giving experience while making over 30 gifts on #GivingTuesday. This week I want to close a circle for those of you who have been following along since last year's #GivingTuesday challenge. Here is the original post from last year. 

This year, I wanted to demonstrate my experiences as a donor with each of the organizations I gave to. You won't believe some of them. You will find it hard to cope with the reality of the donor experience. But folks, here is the cold hard truth. We're missing it with our donors. We have to map out a year in the life of a donor once we make a gift.

Here is the spreadsheet tracking the non-profits activity since I gave. 

I've been keeping track, and while our donors may not keep track as fervently as I have (consider it research) they do know how it feels. Imagine how it felt this year to be solicited by Heifer International 96 times in one year. That's a solicitation every 3.8 days. Wait, take a moment to absorb that.

The opposite is also true. I gave gifts to some organizations who NEVER contacted me again. Not one single ask, not a thank you, nothing. Their ask to thank ratio is off as well.  

What does this say about us as a profession? No one is perfect, but we have a long way to go. Look at the University of Michigan, they did a great job, and others I support repeatedly do as well. But then look at places like Oxfam and Save the Children. It's borderline harassment. Some of you should be cringing now. Remember, donors don't understand the difference between a soft ask and a hard ask, nor should they have to. It's our job and our please to treat donors well, to make them matter and to help them understand the importance of their giving. When we finally realize that collaboration and the donor experience is what matters, we will have the best of times and donor loyalty for years. But what will it take for us to make this a reality? If it's data, I've got it. If it's something else, tell me what it is, but there's NO good reason to ask a donor for money every single week of the year. Like I said, you did what?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the spreadsheet and the results.



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  2. Lynne,
    This blog and spreadsheet are great, and has given me a lot to think about. I would love to hear a little bit more of the thought process on why a few organizations would get another donation, and why some wouldn't. It seems like some of them that wouldn't get a donation again have re-solicited about as much as those that you would give to again. Also, I would love to see the spreadsheet from last Giving Tuesday, but it's not showing up. Your data is fascinating, and I am just trying to get the full...everything. I am really interested to see how the organizations from this year do! Thank you for all of this research you are putting in to this!

  3. I love this!!! Wow! Kudos to you, Lynne for putting this together. Really REALLY impressive! I'm also curious to know your motivations behind why you decided to give again to some and not others. Seems like it wasn't just the thank:ask ratio that helped make your decision. Was it HOW they asked or thanked? Or did you just want to try other places out?

  4. Hi Lynne,

    Thank you for putting such great information out there. After hearing you speak at a Chicago conference this Spring, we have put a critical eye to our own "Gratitude Project". We of course thank our donors in the traditional way, letter, call, personal hand written thank you notes, in person. We recently added immediate email thank you's and quarterly newsletters now that we have a database to help us with tracking. Before these types of communications were sent out but not as consistently and quickly as we are now doing. I am curious on the types of thank you that you did receive (letter or email), what styles/message resonated with you the most? I am in the process of getting "impact stories" and testimonials from our staff and students that are directly impacted by our funding, essentially our donor gifts.

    1. Hi Shelley, would you be willing to share your newsletter with me? We recently redid our to try to make it more donor centric, but I love to see how other people have done it.

  5. Thanks Lynne! I took a break from composing a hand-written thank you note to check out this post. Great data snapshot - good tool for spurring internal review. I would like to know how the thank yous break down by format and quantity of each: email, snail mail, form letter, hand-written, personalized, etc.