70% of nonprofits don’t deserve donors

It’s so discouraging when you think about it. We work so hard to get people to give. We read books and blogs. We go to conferences. We study, ask for advice, hire experts.

All to get just a few more donors on board, supporting our good causes.

Then we flush it all by not thanking them when they give.

Thanksfail

That’s what Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog tells us, at 10 Donations. 3 Thank-Yous. 7 Failures to Communicate. (Don’t miss it. She names names!)

Last December Kivi gave $20 donations to 10 national nonprofits by converting credit card miles into cash donations through the Capital One Giving Site. She gave them both her email address and mailing address.

Two months later, here’s the score:


  • 3 of the nonprofits have said thank you.
  • 7 have said nothing.

If cuss-words were allowed on this blog, I’d be cussing right now. As Kivi put it:

How can nonprofits expect to thrive off the kindness of others, when the kindness of a simple thank-you note to an unsolicited donation is too much to ask? Of course, it’s great news to those of you who are doing thank-you notes, because it means you are head-and-shoulders above your peers!

Sure, gifts given through that channel are unusual. Maybe some folks didn’t know what category of giving to put it under. Maybe it falls between two different departments’ scope of responsibility.

Whatever. There’s no excuse.

Let me make a prediction: The organizations that fail to thank their donors are the ones that will end up eventually with no donors. If I’m right about that, I say good riddance!


Comments

8 responses to “70% of nonprofits don’t deserve donors”

  1. I’ve read so many studies and experiments on this very topic … all with very similar results.
    In one I saw within the past week, they made donations directly on the nonprofit’s website (100 such gifts to different orgs). Here it’s SUPER EASY to at least have a warm autoresponder message of gratitude go immediately to the donor.
    But barely half of the nonprofits had “Thank you” in the subject line and the first sentence of the email message. The “thank you” may have been buried deeper in the email, I don’t know because the study didn’t say.
    But the point is that even when donors are making gifts directly on the charity’s website … the thanks are sporadic. This could be corrected within minutes!

  2. I’ve read so many studies and experiments on this very topic … all with very similar results.
    In one I saw within the past week, they made donations directly on the nonprofit’s website (100 such gifts to different orgs). Here it’s SUPER EASY to at least have a warm autoresponder message of gratitude go immediately to the donor.
    But barely half of the nonprofits had “Thank you” in the subject line and the first sentence of the email message. The “thank you” may have been buried deeper in the email, I don’t know because the study didn’t say.
    But the point is that even when donors are making gifts directly on the charity’s website … the thanks are sporadic. This could be corrected within minutes!

  3. Katie Graf Avatar
    Katie Graf

    It would be interesting to compare this list of large national charities to a list of local ones. We give mostly locally and are rarely disappointed with the experience. For the many places we have given here over the years, I would guess that over 90% have thanked us and many with handwritten notes, or a short handwritten note added to a personalized mail merge gift acknowledgement/thank you letter.

  4. Katie Graf Avatar
    Katie Graf

    It would be interesting to compare this list of large national charities to a list of local ones. We give mostly locally and are rarely disappointed with the experience. For the many places we have given here over the years, I would guess that over 90% have thanked us and many with handwritten notes, or a short handwritten note added to a personalized mail merge gift acknowledgement/thank you letter.

  5. I heard from another four after (because of) the post. Interestingly, they all sent paper thank-yous for the online gift and were very apologetic.
    I know there are significant technology issues associated with this experiment, but I don’t think that changes the wake-up call for charities to pay attention.
    It’s also a little scary how many people have said that I am selfish to expect ANYTHING because I only gave $20. Or why would I expect a charity to send out their expensive welcome packet for just $20. Ay Yi Yi!! Why you would be sending out a welcome packet in the mail that was so expensive in the first place is beyond me . . .

  6. I heard from another four after (because of) the post. Interestingly, they all sent paper thank-yous for the online gift and were very apologetic.
    I know there are significant technology issues associated with this experiment, but I don’t think that changes the wake-up call for charities to pay attention.
    It’s also a little scary how many people have said that I am selfish to expect ANYTHING because I only gave $20. Or why would I expect a charity to send out their expensive welcome packet for just $20. Ay Yi Yi!! Why you would be sending out a welcome packet in the mail that was so expensive in the first place is beyond me . . .

  7. Katie Graf Avatar
    Katie Graf

    Selfish to expect a thank you? Yikes. My fav thank you that I TOTALLY didn’t expect was from a small summer ed workshop nonprofit. I tossed a couple extra bucks in with my kids’ registration (they had a space asking for small donations) – literally a couple of bucks. They sent back a handwritten note not only thanking me but referred back to the classes my son had taken the previous summer. Blew me away. I tell everyone the story and give them the best word of mouth whenever I get the chance.

  8. Katie Graf Avatar
    Katie Graf

    Selfish to expect a thank you? Yikes. My fav thank you that I TOTALLY didn’t expect was from a small summer ed workshop nonprofit. I tossed a couple extra bucks in with my kids’ registration (they had a space asking for small donations) – literally a couple of bucks. They sent back a handwritten note not only thanking me but referred back to the classes my son had taken the previous summer. Blew me away. I tell everyone the story and give them the best word of mouth whenever I get the chance.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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