At PRG we’ve had the privilege of talking with hundreds of generous donors across our spectrum of clients. Recently, we asked what factors keep their support alive or send them running for the charity exits. Some of their comments surprised us.
The top issues Bay Area donors mentioned:
1. Thank me right away
So simple, but this was the number one comment. A long lapse in gift acknowledgment is not only impolite but suggests something’s amiss. As In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters pointed out, perception is everything. Dirty flip-down trays imply poor airline engine maintenance.
2. Say something about how my gift was used
People make gifts for many reasons but the most often cited is “impact.” Donors want to understand the difference their gift makes. It’s easy to explain how large, designated gifts have helped. But you can use creativity to illustrate how routine annual contributions combine to do big things. And stay away from the trap of assuming that the donor gives just because they like you. There’s always gotta be a good reason.
3. Don’t just solicit
Educate and inform in between asks. We’re surprised at how often we see even good organizations assume that they can simply turn on the spigot come appeal time. A good cycle is as simple as: ask, thank, inform, teach, involve—then ask again.
4. Show I’m in good company
Giving, for many, is not only an individual act. It’s a communal one. Unless a donor demands anonymity (and few actually do), letting them know who else gives shows that others like them care, too. It reinforces confidence in the organization and creates fertile ground for building a true community of donors.
5. Find out who I am
Our nonprofit clients tell us that many donors are but names in their database. Donors tell us they notice the very same thing! It’s a curious phenomenon, given that most organizations are otherwise great in taking a deep dive into people’s lives to carry out their missions. Too many names and too little time is a flimsy excuse for not connecting with supporters. Deploying staff and volunteer resources to reach out and meet one’s donors is time very well spent.