How Charities Can Get More Out of Their Donors


An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal queried, “What gets people to give?” Ask and you shall receive – there is some new research out from Yale and Harvard Universities that help answer that very question.

One of the tests done leveraged the value of big-name donors, not as a Major Gift but as a gift that keeps on giving – literally. Mentioning a major donor or a foundation gift (in the test example the Gates Foundation was used) in direct mail to a potential contributor not only made them more likely to give, but also give more. Experts in the article said that big-name donors gave new donors the comfort of feeling that a charity had already been “vetted” and was a “safer bet” than others who made no mention of their major supporters.

Spotlighting donations publicly has always been popular, but the practice is typically reserved for those with, shall we say, a higher capacity to give. While most of us don’t have the kind of funds that puts our name on a wall, research shows we still benefit from positive strokes. Being acknowledged was a big motivation to give, and in a test run by Harvard University, the acknowledgement need not be grand. The promise of a simple newsletter mention was enough to raise the likelihood to give as well as the average gift amount significantly.

Read more about these tests and others at Be sure to watch the video content as well – the interview with TinyGive co-founder Clarence Wardell is 4 minutes of very educational content.

Four Issues That Get In the Way of Fixing Donor Churn

In the wake of last week’s Donor Churn webinar, Agitator has made a whitepaper available (for free). This paper outlines the four issues around donor churn and discusses the cure to each of them. The issues are:

1. Thinking churn can be addressed when they call to quit or with a reinstatement program.

2. Believing churn can be fixed by sending more communications dubbed “engagement” or “loyalty” touchpoints (i.e. no hard ask).

3. Only assigning value to transactional data and being forced to guess at the “why” of donor behavior.

4. Treating donor service as a cost center and a burden.

The contents of the entire paper are embedded below and can be read here or pop open into a new tab.


2014 Luminate Online Benchmark Report


The 2014 Luminate Online Benchmark Report is now available for download. And although this performance data in online fundraising is aggregated from 794 nonprofit organizations, the majority (80.7%) of nonprofits are raising less than $2 million per year online, suggesting that this is a fundraising segment in its fledgling stages.

Those of you who are familiar with the report will note that the delivery is quite a bit earlier this year, as it reflects a new approach Blackbaud is taking to examine the data from the fiscal year rather than the calendar year.

The comparison should make the metrics more relatable, at least for those running a July-June fiscal year. Also, the report is now published at a point when stations are fine-tuning their end-of-year giving efforts.

Check out key highlights on the colorful infographic available on this npEngage blog. Or download the full 62-page report for free by clicking here.

2014 Adobe Digital Index Report

Adobe PicOne of the key findings from this year’s report was the sharp rise in web traffic on large-screen smartphone devices. With smartphone screen sizes increasing to 4-inches or larger, tablet use is leveling out. Currently 30% of all web traffic is being viewed on a smartphone with a 4-inch screen or larger, up from 19% last year. Mobile carriers charge more for data usage, so consumers are depending more on Wi-Fi to connect. Over 50% of all web site visits were via Wi-Fi.

Mobile marketers are also viewing apps in a more serious light and investing heavily into developing apps that will better engage consumers. Using location-based awareness, monetizing the mobile experience, and overcoming something they call “fat finger syndrome” (which causes users to enter personal data incorrectly) are just some of the things developers consider.

Understanding what technology your donors are using to consume and share content via the web is necessary to boost engagement. Check out the full report by clicking here: Adobe Mobile Benchmarking Report.

How Much is Your $100 Worth?

Picture1Click Here to check out the results of a new study released this summer from the Tax Foundation that shows the relative value of $100 by state and some metro-statistical areas.

If your members live in Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, and South Dakota, their $100 is worth the most, where as if you are in DC, Hawaii. New York, New Jersey or California, you are not getting the most bang for your buck.

While the Tax Foundation is focused on the tax implications, it can be used helpful in fundraising when looking at Average Donation amounts at your station compared to National Averages and even help when developing appropriate ask matrices.

If your station has done any sort of adjustments or analysis based on information such as this or Cost Of Living Indices, please let us know.



The Speed of Thought



A recent Bloomberg editorial entitled Navigating Charity’s Fast and Slow Lanes brought some interesting donor segmentation to light. Findings in a recent study showed that fast thinkers tend to give emotionally and don’t respond to hard statistical data the way that slower thinkers do. The fast thinkers tended to give in smaller increments while the slow thinkers were those likely to give over $100.

Could this be an opportunity for a test at your station? Do you use specific numbers in your messaging or does your narrative contain a passionate appeal? Click the link above to hear more about this interesting study.