From the mouths of donors: Part 1

After more than 60 posts to this blog over the last few months, I’ve decided that many of you are probably tired of hearing me pontificate day-in-and-day-out. So, this week I am changing things up a little bit. Last week I launched an anonymous online survey via various social media channels and my email address book. I’ve picked four really awesome responses to share with you this week that I think provide excellent lessons for non-profit and fundraising professionals. Enjoy!!!

Again … the survey was anonymous because I wanted the truth, the whole truth and nothing up the truth. Here is what the today’s highlighted survey respondent said:

Question: Using the comment box below, please write a paragraph or two answering some of the following questions. Of the charities to whom you currently donate money, which one is your favorite?  How did you first learn about this charity? Why did you make that first contribution? Why are you still contributing? How do you know that your contribution is making a difference? What does the charity do to demonstrate it is having an impact?

Answer: I really don’t have a favorite.  I learned about most of mine by working at them either by a job or volunteering at them.  I made my first contribution by being asked.  Yes, I still contribute to most of the places I’ve worked at or volunteered.

Question: Understanding that these are tough economic times and no donor’s contribution ever should be taken for granted, what does your favorite charity need to do (or show you) in order to renew your support and/or increase the size of your contribution?

Answer: I think most of the charities I give to do a good job thanking me for my donation.  The size really wouldn’t change too much since I’m not too rich.

Hmmm … what a humble donor, but aren’t most of them? Here is what struck me about this person’s responses:

  1. They reaffirm something that I once learned from a co-worker, which is that volunteers make great donor prospects. If you want to grow your annual campaign or special event, look no further than the volunteers working throughout your organization. If they think highly enough of you to volunteer their time, then they most likely think highly enough of you to make a contribution. What is the harm in asking? In the end, it is their decision.  Click here to read what “The Chronicle of Philanthropy” has to say about “Turning Your Volunteers into Donors”.
  2. In this donor’s second response, they seem to be satisfied when their charities of choice do a good job of thanking them for their contribution. Now, you’re probably thinking this practice is common place, but Penelope Burk found in her donor research that only 39% of respondents ALWAYS receive a thank you letter. This means that 61% only received a recognition letter MOST OF THE TIME or SOMETIMES (Source: Donor Centered Fundraising, pg 38)

If you don’t have an organized, well-run volunteer management program, it sounds like you might be missing out on something.

How does your organization reach out to volunteers? What lessons and best practices can you share? Have some of your volunteers become donors? What has been your experiences? Please use the comment box below to share because we can learn from each other.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847