The Donor Experience
The donor experience is a very large field in academia and in other areas. What ministries, especially, need most is to understand their donors’ attitudes, behaviors, who else that they’re giving to.
Most organizations today don’t have a good grasp on who their donors are. They presume a lot. That donors love them, and want to support them, and that there’s a higher priority for them versus other charities that they support. I don’t think there’s a good communication exchange between ministries and their donors.
Why do non-profits struggle to know their donors
Mostly, a lot of these charities are filled with people with ministry backgrounds. They don’t have that kind of education to understand the customer dynamic, which is basically the same because people, as they spend money on different brands and products, they spend money on different charities.
Previous research shows that most donors are giving to about five charities at the same time during a year. The research also suggests that there’s a priority. Some are more important than others. That creates erratic giving patterns where you might support one charity constantly every month, but then another charity every other year.[08:53] I think ministries, internally look at that and say, especially for the ones that are giving every other year, “Why?” They target that situation with they’re not saying the right thing in their appeal letter or they’re not marketing to them enough. In actuality, it’s just you’re not as important as the other charities that I’m supporting. it’s more of an internal decision.
How does research help non-profits?
Q: As a ministry tries to find new donors, that quest for new people to support their ministry, how can research help with that? How is that not just a direct marketing effort or just telling their message in new places? What does research add to that?
A: If every ministry had the means, then I think that it’s just common sense. They should be communicating, facilitating some kind of dialog with their donors and understanding more about where their ministry fits in amongst other ministries and charities that they support.
An answer to that is there needs to be some kind of, again I’ll bring it to the real world, customer feedback program that’s ongoing, where you’re constantly having a dialog with your donors and understanding how they perceive you in juxtaposition against other charities that they’re supporting.
John Theodore serves as Project Manager with Lifeway Research. John has been leading consumer insights research for nearly two decades, having experience in both the profit and nonprofit worlds. His passion is discovering the keys to successful relationships between customers and the brands they value.