Burk releases new donor survey report


Penelope Burk and her Cygnus Applied Research, Inc. firm have released the next installment of their extensive and insightful research.  A free download of an executive summary of the report is available here.

We’ve extracted a few key points from Penelope’s research below that we found of particular interest:

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The Tenth Anniversary of Donor-Centered Fundraising

The original thesis that gift acknowledgement and communication are vitally important bu that recognition is less effective in influencing loyalty and higher gift values, was reaffirmed in this year’s survey.

Acknowledging Donors and Their Gifts

. . . tardiness does influence their future giving decisions.  Almost one in three donors said they are less likely to give again to organizations that are late in acknowledging gifts.

. . . Donors are seeking thank you letters which, in tone and composition, feel like they were written for them personally (68%)

Effective Donor Communication

Asking for gifts in communications designed to inform donors about a not-for-profit’s progress is not popular with donors.  While 13% felt that this was acceptable or even helpful, 40% of respondents said these asks contribute to over-solicitation which, in turn, makes them less likely to give again.

. . . Donors were very specific about content that does and does not motivate future giving, with “information on results achieved with their gifts” their top requirement (75%).

Donor Recognition and Its Impact on Giving

Donors who give at all levels and have had their names recognized publicly were surveyed about the degree to which name recognition influenced the most recent gift they made.  In all cases, even among donors whose gift values qualified them to name a building or room or to be included on a donor wall, the majority said they would have made the gift anyway and at the same level, whether they were recognized publicly or not. . .

Similarly, token gifts received low marks from donors regarding their abaility to influence loyalty and gift value.  Only 7% of donors who have experienced receiving token gifts said they influence their giving in a positive way; 21% said that token gifts make them less likely to give or cause them to stop giving altogether to the charities that send them.

Contrary to publishing donors’ names and sending donors token gifts which were not seen as effective at sustaining loyalty and influencing generosity, Donor Recognition Events were singled out by respondents as high influential.

Is There More Money Out There?

Donors gave over $316 billion to charitable causes last year, yet 42% of Burk donor Survey respondents said they still could have given more.