How Do You Give?

I read an interesting post yesterday called Direct Mail Still Rules the Day in Fundraising on Fundraising Success. It highlights some of the notable findings in Blackbaud’s 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report. The article made me think about how I donate and why. Here are some points that jumped out at me and my personal response.

  • Even though direct mail remains the dominant channel for donor acquisition, it is increasingly common for new donors to give initially online. Very interesting. In order for me to give to a nonprofit organization, I need to already know about them and what they are doing. Yes, I may go to their website to research them a bit more, but I probably have interacted with them more than just online – maybe I volunteered for them, visited their facility, saw their services in action, etc. I need to engage more with nonprofits before I give to them, so online isn’t the way I’d choose to give. The only time this is true is when a friend asks me to give to something they are raising money for. Which is why the next point makes sense.
  • Online-acquired donors tend to have lower retention rates than mail-acquired donors. Exactly. If you acquired my donation online, you are probably one of those organizations my friend is fundraising for, and so my personal connection doesn’t bridge further than that (unless you engage me another way, which most nonprofits don’t). It’s too bad more of those nonprofits don’t do more to engage us friend folks, demonstrating their value and why giving to their general fund would be beneficial.
  • Large proportions of online-acquired donors switch from online giving to offline giving — primarily direct mail. However, very few mail-acquired donors switch to online giving. Like many people, I consider mail activity to mean more than online activity. You probably received several emails today, but when was the last time you received a letter? If you’ve convinced me to give again, and I gave online the first time, I probably think of you as more important than I did with the first gift, so I’m going to give through direct mail.
  • The presence of past multichannel giving is generally not a significant factor in predicting future retention or long-term donor value. Traditional RFM factors are far better indicators. Doesn’t surprise me one bit. Donating over multiple channels (online, direct mail, etc) doesn’t necessarily mean the donor is invested in the organization – but RFM factors (recency, frequency, monetary – when they gave last, how often they give, and how much they gave) will always be the best guide of where a donor is going with their giving.

I definitely encourage you to take a look at the Fundraising Success article and think about your own giving. I’d love to hear what you think!