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Unpacking Ungiving

Organisations that are involved in direct mail appeals or direct response are often working hard to increase the response rate. So we focus on the group of donors that actually respond and see how we can increase that number. We ask questions like; Who are these people? Where do they come from? What motivates them to give?

I recently heard Martin Paul from More Strategic give a presentation about knowing your donors. He asked the question ‘Why do donors stop giving?’ and it got me thinking. Almost half of all donors give one donation and then never give again.  So, perhaps looking at why donors stop giving should be the focus?  Perhaps, why they stop giving is more important than why they do?

For a renewal campaign – asking for a donation  from someone who has already given – response rates between 5-35% are seen to be successful.  But what about the 65-95% that have not responded? That’s more than one in every second donor choosing not to give again. In fact, some studies show the average number of donors that are lost between their first gift and the second ask is closer to 65%.

Here are some of my thoughts as to why this might be so. I call them the Four A’s of Ungiving.

1. Acknowledgment
You didn’t thank them properly the first time they donated and you have offended them. Thanking your donors – no matter what size the donation – is very important. They need to know they have made a difference.

2. Annoying
You have asked them too soon after their first gift, or you ask them ‘too often’. The notion of ‘too often’ however, is a tricky one, because there are varying schools of thought around how often to ask for gifts but perhaps testing some timeframes for your supporters is a good idea.

Let your donors know they make a difference

3. Apathy
You have inspired them in the past but have failed to do so again. This is about demonstrating an urgent need for your cause. Demonstrating why it is important they give their donation to you and what difference it will make.

4. Absent-mindedness
People are busier today than ever before. As fundraisers not only do we need to be skilful at getting their attention, but in such a hectic world we need to be able to get them to remember us. People may have good intentions of making a donation to us, they just get busy again and forget. Sending follow up mailings is important. Sure it may bother some people (so when you get that feedback make sure you have a system that can exclude them from follow ups) but on the whole reminders can increase your responses by 10-20%.

So, in working toward increasing your response rates, perhaps we need to consider the above points. And, most of these things can be tested to find out what works best for your organisation. Or, better still, get it straight from the horses mouth. Take some time to phone some of the people that have stopped giving or who gave once but then haven’t again. Ask them why. Their answers will surely give you an insight into the ungiving phenomena and enable you to make some changes to decrease your levels of lost donors.

Has your organisation looked at this ways to get that second gift from more donors? What are your thoughts?

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.


2 responses »

  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂


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