Encouraging Predictions Regarding Giving

A few weeks ago, the results of the Cygnus Donor Survey were released. There were a few points that I found interesting. But first, two disclaimers (since I’m generally a bit of a skeptic when it comes to surveys)

Please keep one thing in mind as you’re reviewing these numbers. Surveys seem to slant towards reflecting what people want to do, rather than what they actually do. Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an event where Robert Putnam was speaking about the results of his research. When comparing the numbers of people who said they attended church or temple the prior week with the numbers of people who were actually sitting in the pews, they found that more people remembered being there than were actually there.

If I’m reading the report accurately, this survey was administered solely online. I would like to see additional information about whether or not the results are skewed towards those who are comfortable with online communications already. If that’s the case, then I’d also like to find out how that was balanced in order to ensure that the survey findings are reflective of donors in general.

That said, back to the findings:

  • Younger donors plan to give more. Donors ( age 35 and younger) were more likely to say that they planned to contribute a higher dollar amount and to more organizations this year.
  • Majority of donors are giving at the same levels or higher. 80% of respondents reported that they had given the same amount or more in 2010 as compared to 2009.
  • Donor loyalty related to reputation, trustworthiness and showing measurable results. Reputation and trustworthiness of the organization were most closely tied to donor loyalty (53% of respondents also indicated that measurable results were important).
  • Interest in direct mail is waning. Only 1% of respondents indicated that they planned on giving more through direct mail (due to over solicitation and excessive cost).
  • Interest in online communications / social media continues to rise.
    • More people are giving online
    • 69% indicated that they prefer electronic communications
    • 17% of social media account holders reported having made a first-time gift to an organization after following them
    • Social media users who follow charities gave 28% less than their non-charity following social media user counterparts
    • To me, the most interesting finding was that 49% could have given more last year, but were holding back…

How will this change how your organization is communicating with your donors (and who your organization is communicating with?


Encouraging Predictions Regarding Giving — 1 Comment

  1. Surveys that ask people to predict their future behavior (i.e.: Will you give more this year through the mail?) are notoriously inaccurate and, therefore, of marginal utility. If you want to know whether overall charitable giving will go up or not, take a look at GDP. Giving has been consistently at around 2% of GDP since records have been kept. If GDP goes up, charitable giving will almost certainly rise as well.