How donors’ opinions can lead you astray of the facts

There’s a vital difference between facts and opinions. Knowing that difference often separates floundering, confused, opinion-based fundraising programs from successful programs.

Here’s an example of an opinion that flies in the face of facts: It’s a blog at Third Sector, a UK publication for nonprofits. This anonymous blog is written by “Felicity Donor,” who’s described as “a professional young woman [who] gives to charities.” She writes about “which causes she chooses and why.”

It’s often interesting to hear what donors say about their giving. You can get useful insights. But you can also get badly misdirected by their opinions. As you would if you believed what Ms. Donor says at Charities should not waste their money on fluffy thank-you letters to donors:

… why would I want to be patronised with a soft, fluffy letter thanking me for my help? I fund the charity because I want it to do research, and if they’re spending my cash on that rather than a letter, it’s fine by me.

She’s more than welcome to her opinion. But she’s wrong about the need for thanking. Every piece of donor research ever done shows us that prompt and heartfelt thanking leads donors to get more involved — and failure to do so depresses subsequent giving. Furthermore, she’s probably also wrong about her own need for thanking: She reports that she’d rather see her giving go all to the cause — but she’s clearly a bit nettled by the lack of response to her generosity.

Either way, Ms. Donor’s self-reporting is her opinion. If you take it as a fact, you will seriously damage your fundraising program.

A lot of nonprofits are easily swayed by opinions, and fail to check those opinions against the facts. The difference is often vast. And it matters.

(This post first appeared on July 27, 2010.)


Comments

2 responses to “How donors’ opinions can lead you astray of the facts”

  1. James Doyle - T Avatar
    James Doyle – T

    Hello – we are seeking data indicating the age of donors to non-profit organizations. Is this data available? Thank you.
    J. Doyle

  2. James Doyle - T Avatar
    James Doyle – T

    Hello – we are seeking data indicating the age of donors to non-profit organizations. Is this data available? Thank you.
    J. Doyle

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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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