By Cate Redfern, CFRE at Adansonia Consulting

In 2015, Giving USA 2016 shared findings that individuals were responsible for 71% of total philanthropic giving.  This means that individual households were responsible for giving an estimated $264.58 billion to nonprofits, an increase of 3.8% from 2014.  While this growth in individual giving is great news for the nonprofit sector, we, as nonprofit professionals, need to make sure that we are treating our individual donors as partners in our mission, rather than just a set of homogenous funders of our projects.

A pulse-check with individual donors has revealed that they expect to be asked to increase their donations this year to make up for the anticipated loss of federal funding for the arts, health and human services, and the environment.  Our funding partners will be giving more consideration to what is important to them; what they believe the greatest challenges nonprofits need to solve are; and evaluating whether their chosen nonprofits will be responsible and effective with the funds they may donate.

Stepping into the mind of a donor, thinking about how they can make a gift that has the greatest possible impact for your cause, may reveal thoughts like:

  • do you partner effectively with other organizations doing the same or similar work?
  • does review of your nonprofit’s 990 show that your finances are in order?
  • has the donor seen an annual report which accurately describes what you are doing with their funding, and what impact it makes?
  • have you kept the donor informed regarding upcoming short and medium term funding needs and goals, and how you plan to meet them?
  • do you keep your donors engaged by telling them about your successes and how they made that success possible?
  • does your donor feel and understand that their donation made a real a difference?
  • if your donor were to research your organization with the recognized charity evaluators, would they find reporting that reflects credible and transparent use of your donated funds and earned revenue?
  • are your fundraising efforts meeting donors where they want to give? Traditional solicitation methods, like direct mail and telephone campaigns, are still the most successful channels for fundraising appeals, but technology is facilitating a broader range of channels to choose, from, which cannot be ignored.  For example, findings shared in the  Blackbaud Institute’s Charitable Giving Report: How Nonprofit Fundraising Performed in 2016 shows that online giving made up 7.2% of fundraising revenue in 2016 – an increase of 7.9% from 2015.  Seventeen percent of those online giving transactions took place from a mobile device.

As donors become more focused on achieving results with their chosen nonprofits, we need to demonstrate our commitment to the best use of their funds by delivering our programs and services in ways that are resourceful, efficient, and impactful; and that reflects the very personal emotionally and rationally motivated reasons that compelled the donor to invest in our missions.

In the coming weeks I’ll be exploring how you can learn what compels your donors to give, and  steps that can be taken to maintain their loyalty to your mission and develop a sense of partnership in serving the greater good.

To find out more about how Adansonia can help your nonprofit with donor retention to achieve your fundraising goals, contact Cate Redfern at 314.399.6944 or send her an email to set up a free one hour in person or telephone meeting.