Nine top insights on today’s donors

publication date: Nov 12, 2012
author/source: Janet Gadeski
It's important to engage donors and build longevity at all levels of the pipeline, not just among major gift donors says KCI president and CEO Marnie Spears. The newest issue of KCI's Philanthropic Trends Quarterly explores how charities might build stronger relationships with all their donors. Here's just a taste of their advice.
  1. It's dangerous to assume that our donors are just like us, or that everyone shares the opinions of a vocal minority. Listen to what your donors really say, and observe what they really do. 
  2. Ask your donors about who they are, why they like you, what they want from you, and why they give to you - either in individual conversations or through focus groups and online surveys. 
  3. One of KCI's clients discovered that not everyone in its leadership giving group wanted an in-person experience with the organization. A donor survey revealed that some of them preferred electronic, telephone or mail contact. Your assumptions may seem like common sense, but you too could be wrong about what your donors want. 
  4. Use website analytics and information from your database to determine what people actually do. Another KCI client, a concert venue, discovered that the customer segment most likely to move up from ticket purchase to a donation/purchase/membership package was contemporary jazz patrons, not the classical patrons it had assumed. Stay curious about your donors - build a culture of curiosity. It's not enough to run a few surveys and think they've given you all the knowledge you need. 
  5. Segment, segment and segment again. Most charities don't! And segment based on meaningful information. 
  6. Not every donor will be a potential lifelong donor.  Those from pledge-based event fundraising and memorial tribute giving are more likely to be one-time or episodic givers. Accept that, and apply your cultivation and retention tactics to other segments where they'll have the greatest impact. 
  7.  Borrow from the "customer experience" insights of the most successful corporations as you think about your organization's "donor experience." 
  8. Connecting donors to your mission is the heart of that experience - how can you help donors to experience the impact of their gift in the way they'd prefer to experience it (see #3)? 
  9. With major donors, customize their individual experience to fit the original motivation of their gift.   
Read the full publication at Philanthropic Trends Quarterly.    

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