The recently published third annual Gygnus Donor Survey for Canada offers some good insights for fundraisers planning acquisition, cultivation, solicitations and fundraising strategies. This survey with over 10,000 donors looks at giving intentions, monthly giving, major gifts, giving research and a number of other areas. Let’s look at the main findings and why they should matter for fundraisers and nonprofits.
Slow economic recovery reflected in donations
Most people said they gave the same or more as they did the previous year. As this graph shows, 39% of respondents said they gave more this past year, 46% gave the same and only 13% gave less. While this appears encouraging, these is a noticeable decline the the percentage of people giving more over the years, offset by people tending to give the same or less.
This plateauing trend is set to continue into the next year, with a smaller percentage of donors planning to give more, and a greater percentage planning to give the same or less.
Charity websites are the main source of research for donors
The survey found that 82% of donors do research on charities before they give, and the main source of information is the charity’s website. Surprisingly, 30% of donors visiting a nonprofit’s website and not intending to give ended up making a donation anyway because of the information they found when browsing through the site. This is an important finding for fundraisers and charities to note, as they will want to make sure their website is engaging, inspiring, informative and easy to use/donate. When researching a charity online, donors want to know:
• what would be accomplished with their gifts should donors choose to contribute;
• what has been accomplished recently with gifts that donors have made;
• what is the latest news and current developments concerning the organization and its activities
Monthly giving continues to be a strong income stream for Canadian charities. Nearly all survey respondents (94%) have been asked to join monthly giving at some point. And of those respondents who are monthly givers, about 3/4 are highly satisfied with this giving stream, and most have a high retention rate, with just 24% having cancelled after giving this way for some time.
Interestingly, monthly donors are not necessarily the best breeding ground for potential major donors, with those who give monthly being no more inclined to give a major gift than over a charity they support with single gifts.
Peer-to-peer fundraising events
Three quarters of respondents have given to support people in events such as marathons and bike rides. It’s not surprising to learn that most of them (70%) give to support a friend/contact, rather than because of some particular affiliation with or passion for the cause. Even so, only 18% of donors are asked to make a direct gift from the charity after sponsoring a friend/contact. Even through the conversation rate tends to be quite low (17%), charities are missing an opportunity to get new donors on board through peer-to-peer fundraising events.
Leaving money on the table?
So are fundraisers leaving money on the table? There certainly does appear to be room for growth, with 44% of respondents saying they could have given more then they contributed. The key to unlocking this extra money seems to be better stewardship – that is, better reporting and being more transparent about what is being accomplished with the donor’s money.
As a final note, I would like to point out that findings from surveys like this sometimes have to be taken with a grain of salt, as the information is based on self-reporting, rather than independent research and statistics. In other words, what people say might be different than what people do.