Donors Give More Regularly to Nonprofits That Communicate Impact

A report released by Blackbaud found that nonprofits could potentially improve their fundraising returns by better aligning with donors’ giving preferences and increasing transparency. The new report, Donor Perspectives: An investigation into what drives your donors to give, is based on survey results from more than 4,000 donors in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

The report provides a view of the nonprofit sector from the donor perspective and compares results from Blackbaud’s recently-released 2012 State of the Nonprofit Industry report, which gauged levels of nonprofit optimism and explored successful management strategies.

In all three countries, there was a relationship between donation preferences and the average annual contributions donors made to charities over the past year, suggesting that nonprofits should keep donor preferences in mind and ensure donors are easily able to contribute in various ways.

Donations hold steady

According to the Donor Perspectives report, approximately 25 percent of donors from each country reported that the amount they donated to charity increased from the previous year. US donors were primarily motivated by a change in their financial situation while donors in the UK and Australia cited an innate desire to help. On average, US respondents reported donating nearly three times as much to charity as UK or Australia donors.

One-off donations vs. regular donations

One-off donations (which are not scheduled to repeat) are very popular with 80 percent of respondents reporting making a one-off donation to at least one charity in the last year as donors continue to be burdened with financial uncertainty. Roughly two-thirds of respondents from each country reported making regular, or recurring automatic donations, in the past year.

Of the respondents that would consider becoming regular donors, the top three motivating factors were reported to be: 1) having an improvement in their personal financial situation, 2) having a passion for an organization’s mission, and 3) having access to information that proved the impact of their contributions.

Many respondents (20 to 30 percent) reported that they had stopped making regular donations to an organization in the past three years citing their financial situation and lack of transparency on the charity’s part.

On average, in all three countries, as the number of charities to which donors made regular donations increased, so did the total amount of financial contributions.

For US respondents, as the number of charities to which they gave one-time donations increased, the average amount of financial contributions made in the last year also increased. This trend was not present for UK and Australian nonprofits, indicating that donors there tend to stick to a preset budget, unless they give to five or more charities.

Importance of mobile

In each country, nearly half of donors reported using their mobile phone to read emails and view websites, yet less than one-quarter of donors in each country reported using their device to make donations via mobile browser or text. Still, donors (especially younger donors) are embracing mobile technologies faster than nonprofits, according to the SONI report. The projected growth of the use of mobile technologies in marketing efforts, however, indicates that nonprofits have recognized the need to embrace mobile strategies and plan on doing so in the next year.

Age and culture greatly influence preferred donation method:

  • In the US, 43 percent of donors prefer to give by check, while 23 percent of donors prefer to donate with a credit/debit card. Cash donations ranked low on the list in the US at 18 percent.
  • On average, total annual donations tended to increase as the age group increased. In the US, the 65+ age group gave an average of $1,403 in the last year, with the 45-54 age group close behind with an average annual donation of $1,396. US donors in the 18-24 age range donated the least annually at $463.
  • UK and Australian donors prefer to give cash, yet only one percent of Australian and seven percent of UK nonprofits preferred to receive cash donations. The preference to donate via cash significantly decreased with age for donors from all countries. UK respondents were more than twice as like to prefer to donate via direct debit from a bank account, correlating with the high number of regular givers there and the most preferred method of nonprofits. Australian donors were twice as likely as UK respondents to prefer to donate via credit/debit card, while nearly half of nonprofits reported that as their preference.

Donor Perspectives: An investigation into what drives your donors to give, is available for download.

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