Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Donor Communications Overload?

The refrain that "we’re getting too much stuff from charities" is one that we hear from the public a lot these days, at least in media stories. But how true is it really?

A new survey was released at the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) National Convention in London a few days ago which shows that most charitable supporters here in the U.K. are happy with the amount of communications they're receiving from charities.

From 150 in-depth interviews conducted by TW CAT (a direct response firm in the U.K.), just 17 percent said that charities communicated too much, while 72 percent said the level of communications was "just right" and 11 percent said communications were "too rare."

Other interesting tidbits:
  • On average, it took eight communications to a donor to receive at least two gifts
  • 61 percent of interviewees said they were LESS likely to give to a new charity now because of the economy
  • There is a big drop in donor retention—from 86 percent to 59 percent—between the second and third year of a supporter’s relationship with a charity
Two thoughts. One, I think there's a big difference between what he hear from our supporters and the general public. The "too much stuff from charities" refrain is, I believe, something that's an automatic response from the general public without too much nuance. We all get frustrated at the amount of stuff in our mailbox from time to time. But drill down and ask each person about specific charities they support, and I imagine your responses will be similar to the survey’s data.

I think these responses also speak to the number of people now less likely to give to new causes. This says to me that while we can't completely bunker down, focusing on and communicating well with current and previous donors is the way to go. I know many organizations are taking this approach right now.

Two, don't believe for a second that just because the survey was conducted in the U.K. that it doesn't have applications in North America. While many believe that the global recession hasn't struck the U.K. as dramatically as other parts of the world (though it may well soon), I'm struck by the similarity between the conversations at the IoF convention and the ones that occurred at AFP's International Conference on Fundraising in March. It's very interesting and refreshing to hear how different countries are addressing today's challenges.

What's your sense of donor communications these days? Are you sending more or less communications? More targeted and segmented approaches?

LAST NOTE: Did you know that you can be a member of IoF by simply opting-in on the AFP website at no cost? If you are raising money in Europe, I would urge you to join IoF. As a sister organization to AFP, IoF is a great resource and offers legal, governmental and fundraising information. IoF members can also opt-in for AFP membership at no cost.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. It's always a best practice to work closely with your current donors. Retention is easier than acquisition.