Prove Yourself in the Little Things

| by Shannon Williams

Our oldest son started his summer internship a couple of weeks ago. My husband reminded him that you must prove that you are responsible in the little things before you are given additional responsibilities.

So much truth in so many aspects of life, especially fundraising.

In our profession, only 45% of all donors renew their gifts – yes, less than half! And only 2 of every 10 first-time donors make a second gift – ever. It begs the question, are we proving ourselves in the little things?

  • Are we saying thank you in 48 hours or less?
  • Are we communicating the impact of the gifts?
  • Are we making our donors feel valued for investing in our work?
  • Are we showing how our impact, values, and vision align with the values and dreams of our donors? Do we even know what those are?

The leading expert about why and if donors will give or give again is Cygnus Applied Research, led by Penelope Burk. Typically, 15,000-25,000 donors participate in Penelope’s survey each year, offering amazing insights into donor motivations, loyalties, and frustrations. If you are a U.S. nonprofit organization, I strongly encourage you to register as a 2019 Burk Donor Survey Partner this month.

As indicated on Cygnus’s website:

“Partners invite all their active donors to participate in the survey. (You will receive a unique link through which your donors will enter the survey. That allows Cygnus to group your donors and offer you a demographic scan of your supporters.) A minimum of 5,000 is required to qualify as a Survey Partner.”

The site also defines the many benefits of becoming a survey partner.

“Our partners enjoy the following FREE benefits:

  • the full 2019 Burk Donor Survey National Report, authored by Penelope Burk, containing complete statistical findings, dozens of charts and graphs, and hundreds of quotes from donors
  • a private, interactive webinar for partners only to discuss the findings with Penelope
  • for partners who reach out to 250,000 donors or more, a separate report comparing their donors’ results with those of all other donors in the Survey
  • a demographic scan of your donors that includes: age, gender, family situation, education, occupation, racial/ethnic heritage, language spoken at home, household income, religious conviction, political affiliation, state of residence.”

What are the benefits for donors? Cygnus says:

“Cygnus will provide the Executive Summary of the 2019 Burk Donor Survey Report to any donor who requests it. In order to ensure donors’ anonymity, Survey respondents will be redirected to Cygnus’ website after they have completed and sent the electronic questionnaire. This is an opt-in opportunity only. Donors who participated in past Surveys say they appreciate the opportunity to learn what we found while knowing that their anonymity as a respondent is protected. Cygnus never solicits donors who provide their email address for this purpose.”

Knowledge is power. Armed with the outcomes of this research, we can recommit to proving ourselves in the little things: saying thank you, sharing impact, and inspiring our donors to give again and give more.  Together, the little things can make a huge difference!

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