A focus on my donation patterns

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Every year in preparation for filing my taxes I list my donations from the previous year. This year I had an ‘ah ha’ moment when I realized that there was a wealth of information about my own donation patterns.

  • With a few exceptions I leave the majority of my charitable giving to the end of the year. The nonprofits to which I donate focus on my personal areas of concern. I no longer write checks, with one exception – my yearly donation to the local Food Bank is solicited by a friend who sends a self-addressed envelope.
  • I have become very sensitive to how easy it is to make my donations. I get frustrated when I have to jump through hoops to make the donation. But, I will admit that I don’t yank the donation because I had to fill-in a few extra fields.
  • I no longer look for opportunities to give. I admit that I expect the nonprofits that I support to stay in touch with me throughout the year.
  • I still open direct mail from organizations that support issues of concern and to whom I do not currently donate. On occasion I do add a new organization and usually continue to support them.
  • Social media plays a role in my giving. And, yes, I do expect a thank you for my gift.

My end of the year donations are different from the nonprofits in which I’m fully involved as a board member or trustee. My expectations and responsibilities affect my giving patterns – the more I’m engaged, the more I give.

I recently had an ‘interesting’ experience with an organization with which I have a long standing relationship. I served on the board of trustees, chaired the marketing committee and served as the volunteer coordinator for a yearly lecture series for years.

 I always gave beyond my membership dues and board obligations whenever I served on a committee. Then along came a new president who wanted to put her stamp on the organization. In her eyes that meant making changes as to who was asked to participate in projects.

No need to fill in the blanks here. Would anyone like to guess what happened to my donations?

My suggestion – treasure your donors. Find ways to keep them engaged. Empower those who want to be more involved.

Do you have any experiences to share? Would love to hear from you.

 

It’s not too late to improve year-end giving!

 

 

Okay, I know it’s late. But, there’s still time to ensure that your organization is primed to reap the benefit of end-of-year donations.

So, as you get ready for your end-of-the year push, I want to share my personal pet peeves that make me think twice before supporting a nonprofit. These were originally posted last year – Putting together the puzzle pieces for your end of the year fundraising:

  • No way to send an email and/or make a phone call to a specific staff member
  • Sending me a letter and/or an email addressed to ‘Dear Friend” – There’s just no excuse. You need to send personalized email and letters.
  • No one to answer the phone and/or respond to email the end of December – It boggles my mind when nonprofits completely close down during this most important fundraising period. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard from ‘almost’ donors who moved on to support organizations where they could reach a human being.
  • Making me hunt for a way to make a donation – A donate now link is not enough. Visitors to your website need to see a donate button regardless of where they land when they enter your site. Complement each page with a donate pitch with an easy to find donate button
  • Donate now buttons that don’t link directly to the donation page – For each extra click you are losing potential donors.
  • Donation pages without contact information and an address for regular mail – Personally I like to charge my donations. But, there are still people who like to send a check. Be sure to invite visitors to do so.
  • No way to make a tribute donation – I’ve developed deep relationships with nonprofits who provide a phone number and/or email address for tribute donation details. On the flip side I’ve crossed off nonprofits that don’t have some mechanism for making these gifts.
  • No personal thank you notes for online donations – Most online systems have an automated response system. Be sure and follow up with a personalized thank you.
  • A registration that promises an online newsletter that never comes

Recently I read an interesting article by Curtis Chang, founder and CEO of Consulting Within Reach, posted in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I found myself nodding my head as I read the article.

Here’s a summary of End-of-Year Appeals: Five Bad Habits to Kick. (I strongly suggest you read the article. It contains a number of great links).

1. Sending everyone the same message

Do you really want to send the same message to people who have already donated this year and to people who have never given? Not acknowledging a previous supporter’s donation is like greeting a good friend at a party by extending your hand and saying, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.” With all of the database technology at hand, every organization should be customizing their appeals.

2. Over-reliance on emotional stories

Stories are important to appeal to prospective donors. But end of the year letters also need to contain data that demonstrates the overall impact of donations. Don’t forget to compile your stats, and display them in a compelling way to help persuade people to support your organization.

3. Killing with words, words, words

In our communication era, people have a decreasing capacity to consume long stretches of text. During the holiday season, as more and more physical and electronic letters arrive than usual, that capacity plummets even further. Nonprofits would be well advised to look for other media to embed in their annual appeals.

4. Neglecting the little things

Almost ¼ of all email opens occur within the first hour of being sent. This means that a little thing like when you’ve scheduled delivery of your electronic appeal can make a real difference. Your placement—and testing—of your hyperlinks to a giving opportunity can also have out-sized impact. For physical mailings, the biggest little thing you can do is to include a handwritten message: Some studies show that this increases the chances of a donation by 300 percent.

5. Botching the thank you

One very obvious bad habit is to forget to send a timely thank you to donors. Thank you cards matter—but beware: According to other studies, thank you gifts can backfire by ruining the donor’s sense of altruism.

Don’t let these stumbling blocks keep you from reaping the end of the year fundraising benefits.

Do you have any further suggestions? Would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Putting together the puzzle pieces for your end of the year fundraising

A very dear friend lost her husband unexpectedly. I wanted to make sure the nonprofit in which she had been very involved knew about the funeral. I also wanted to make a donation in his memory.

I hit the website knowing that I would easily find the needed contact information, since I had worked with the organization as a marketing communications consultant in 2008.

Imagine my surprise when I could not find any email addresses or phone numbers except to a central box.

What a wake-up call!

So, as you get ready for your end-of-the year push, I want to share my personal pet peeves that make me think twice before supporting a nonprofit:

  • No way to send an email and/or make a phone call to a specific staff member
  • Sending me a letter and/or an email addressed to ‘Dear Friend” – There’s just no excuse. You need to send personalized email and letters.
  • No one to answer the phone and/or respond to email the end of December – It boggles my mind when nonprofits completely close down during this most important fundraising period. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard from ‘almost’ donors who moved on to support organizations where they could reach a human being.
  • Making me hunt for a way to make a donation – A donate now link is not enough. Visitors to your website need to see a donate button regardless of where they land when they enter your site. Complement each page with a donate pitch with an easy to find donate button
  • Donate now buttons that don’t link directly to the donation page – For each extra click you are losing potential donors.
  • Donation pages without contact information and an address for regular mail – Personally I like to charge my donations. But, there are still people who like to send a check. Be sure to invite visitors to do so.
  • No way to make a tribute donation – I’ve developed deep relationships with nonprofits who provide a phone number and/or email address for tribute donation details. On the flip side I’ve crossed off nonprofits that don’t have some mechanism for making these gifts.
  • No personal thank you notes for online donations – Most online systems have an automated response system. Be sure and follow up with a personalized thank you.
  • A registration that promises an online newsletter that never comes

Don’t let these stumbling blocks keep you from reaping the end of the year fundraising benefits.

Do you have any suggestions ? We’d love to hear from you.

Have questions? Need more information?

Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com.