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Who, Why and How they Give - US Study

30 August 2010 at 12:22 pm
Staff Reporter
New US research is set to change the way Not for Profits approach fundraising budgets.

Staff Reporter | 30 August 2010 at 12:22 pm


Who, Why and How they Give - US Study
30 August 2010 at 12:22 pm

A new US research study may change the way many Not for Profits approach their fundraising budgets.

The report, Heart of the Donor, Insights into Donor Motivation and Behavior for the 21st Century, uncovers insights on donor behaviour and preferences as well as insight into age, demographic and other factors.

The research was commissioned and created by US Not for Profit specialist marketing company, Russ Reid. The survey took place in June 2010.

Not unexpectedly, the study found that today’s most valuable donors – boomers and older donors – primarily give through the mail. But those in the 25-54 age range tended to give both online and through the mail.

Lisa McIntyre, Russ Reid Senior Vice President, Strategy Development says one thing they found interesting from the research is this nexus in the 25-54 year old group.

She says the donors who will be most important to NFPs in the coming decade seem equally happy with both mail and online.

But according to the study, older donors are more generous.

McIntyre says if the goal of a Not for profit is to effectively target today’s best donors, then they should focus significant and smart attention on the donors giving the most money – seniors and boomers. For example, the number of donors in the 18-24 group and 70-plus are comparable, but the 70-plus donor gives three times as much.

She says this does not mean that NFPs should turn a blind eye to the younger segments because their value will likely increase as they age. But fundraising expenditures must be weighted according to a strategy that maximizes those who are giving now.

The report suggests that fundraisers should focus their money on the channels that perform the best. While social media is an exciting means of reaching the younger community, the report indicated those who are active there don’t use it for donations.

Another striking result of the survey shows that people want to give to charities that spend money on good management. Given a choice, the respondents preferred organisations that hire top-quality managers, even with higher salaries, over hiring less experienced managers and spending fewer dollars on salaries.

An even greater percentage would rather support an organisation that spends more on fundraising and brings in more money to help the cause than would support an organisation that spends little on fundraising but raises less money.

McIntyre says only 28 percent would opt for efficiency over effectiveness.

She says the research questions on costs reveal that what donors want more than anything else is value for their money.

The report also focused on the impact of the disaster in Haiti on NFP fundraising. 38 percent of Americans gave to help Haiti. 52 percent of active donors – those who regularly give to NFPs – donated. Very surprisingly, nearly 30 percent of Haiti donors say they did not support any NFPs in the last year, including 16 percent of fairly determined non donors. Most likely to give to Haiti were African Americans (51percent), Latinos (53 percent), Asians (59 percent) as were people not born in the US (59 percent).

Four out of ten donors said that if they had not given to the Haiti disaster, the money would have gone elsewhere. Still, 58 percent of donors believe that what they gave to Haiti was unique – it was over and above what they normally give. Haiti was a first-time giving impetus for 3 percent of all Americans, 6.7 million people.

Haiti donations saw massive channel donation differences, with text-to-give having a big impact. While 32 percent of donors said they gave to NFPs working in Haiti through places of worship, another 22 percent gave online, and 19 percent through texting. Questioned if the limits on text donations resulted in lower donations, 90 percent of text donors claim they would have donated through another channel had texting not been provided.

More than two-thousand respondents participated in the study. It was conducted both by phone and through a pre-recruited online research panel. The study was also conducted in English and Spanish.

To see the full report go to Go to

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