One way to really screw up your fundraising is to make bad assumptions about your donors. The most common way we do this is to assume donors are (or should be) exactly like us.
Another common way we make incorrect assumptions about donors is to think all of them are just like the small number of donors we interact with personally. This error is outlined at PhilanTopic, at Blinded By the ‘Sophisticated Donor’?
The donors you most likely talk with face-to-face are major donors and institutional donors. What they know, and what they want, are very different from the large mass of more typical donors:
Not everyone is a “sophisticated” donor. Not everyone is a professional fundraiser or works for a foundation or corporate giving program. In fact, very few people do. And people … seldom give to a charitable cause or organization because they’re looking to achieve impact or based on a chart of performance metrics; they give because it makes them feel good, or because it’s a worthy cause, or because, like me, they want to help a friend.
I’ve rarely seen a fundraising message that failed because it was too simple.
I’ve seen hundreds of fundraising messages that failed because they were too complicated.
We are constantly tempted to fundraising from ourselves or our friends — or those atypical donors we know and like best. Complexity and sophistication do not translate well to normal donors.
What’s the difference between a major donor and a regular donor?
The major donor gives bigger gifts.
Most of the other differences are less important and have more to do with the ways we can afford to cultivate high-dollar donors. We’d do the same strategies for regular donors, except if we did we’d spend more raising funds than they gave.
Here are some observations about major donors from Fired-Up Fundraising. Most of them also apply to regular donors. Top 10 Trends: How Major Donors are Changing and What To Do About It:
- Donors are wary of trusting us.
- The Boomers are becoming the #1 donor population.
- Older ladies are THE major donor demographic.
- Donors want Donor-Centered communications.
- Major donors who volunteer give more. Much more.
- Major donors are all over social media.
- Major donors look at their gifts as investments. They want to see impact and ROI.
- Major donors are assured when they see the financials and the numbers.
- Like most of us, donors are feeling overwhelmed, jaded, and even bored.
- Major donors love a Big Idea.
Video is a great way to tell stories. And it’s easy to get it in front of people. What’s not to be excited about?
Sometimes getting excited about it is what causes a problem. The fact that it’s really cool is not a reason to use it, and not a platform for making video. The coolness of video is just a side-benefit for those who work on it. You get those little goosebumps of doing something new and different.
Other than that, video is like any other medium. Flat Earth Direct has some useful don’ts for video at The power of video storytelling:
- Don’t use video to replace stuff that works.
- Don’t use video to make you look cool/professional.
- Don’t use video just because you have some great footage.
Video has its best chance of working if you think it through, know your goals, understand your audience, and have a clear call to action. Just like any other medium.
Do you know anyone who’s hiding from the hard work of raising funds by spending all their time on exciting new possibilities?
Seth Godin has a good word for that: Neophilia as a form of hiding.
It’s a significant problem in many quarters of our industry:
… what works is significantly more important than what’s new. Racing to build your organization around the latest social network tool or graphics-rendering technology permits you to spend a lot of time learning the new system and skiing in the fresh powder of the unproven, but it might just distract you from the difficult work of telling the truth, looking people in the eye and making a difference.
Get the basics nailed down, and you’ll be much more likely to succeed in the exciting new media.
Better yet, here’s the cool part: When you focus on the basics and really know what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be much smarter about the new opportunities that come before you. The snake oil will be obvious. The promising will look promising.
If you flit from one Next Big Thing to the next like a butterfly, you’ll never develop discernment. Every over-heated claim (“It’s the next Facebook!!!!”) is equally believable.
Well, 2012 wasn’t too terrible a year. That’s according to the Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report for 2012 (PDF, registration required).
Giving last year was up 1.7% over 2011. That small growth was not evenly distributed:
- Large organizations grew by 0.3%
- Medium organizations grew 2.7%
- Small organizations grew 7.3%
Giving was also uneven by charity sector:
- Religious organizations were up 6.1%
- Healthcare down 3.4%
- International affairs down 4.7% (no large disasters)
On the other hand, online giving continued to significantly outpace overall giving. It grew 11% in 2012, and accounted for 7% of all donations in 2012, an increase over 2011.
The sectors making the most of online giving were healthcare and international: 14.2% of healthcare giving was online and 11.8% of international giving was online. This is a bright spot for the two sectors that more most down in overall giving. It shows they are well positioned for future growth as more and more giving migrates online.