Tactics, Takeaways from the Trends in Giving Report

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The Global Trends in Giving Report gathers survey results of 6,057 donors worldwide. Here are some key takeaways and strategies from this year's report.

A few weeks back, I happened upon the 2018 Global Trends in Giving report, sponsored by Public Interest Registry with research performed by Nonprofit Tech for Good. The report compiled results of surveys of 6,057 donors in 119 countries and 1,049 non-donors worldwide.

The report is global, comprehensive and raises some interesting questions and opportunities that we think your organization would benefit from contemplating. And if you’d like to have such a conversation with us, we’d welcome that too.

Gratitude as a giving strategy. 

69% percent of donors said they preferred to be thanked via email. This presents significant opportunities to revisit the work and expense you’re attributing to things like print letters and postcards and opens up several questions:

  • How much have you designed out your email replies?
  • How segmented have you made them?
  • What next steps have you provided your donors?
  • How relevant is the content in those emails?

Turn your organization into a vehicle for remembering others.

56% of donors in North America, and 33% worldwide give tribute gifts to family & friends; 43% of those tributes are memorial gifts. This presents another content opportunity to derive compelling content that aligns with your site’s donation goals.

  • Given the motivation of donors to help the memory of loved ones live on, what tools and opportunities have you built to more easily help those donors tell the stories of the people they’re donating in memory of?
  • What attributes did the tribute have that relate to the cause they’re looking to support?
  • What milestones should you have in a CRM system to help reconnect on key anniversaries of the person who was being remembered?

Can peer-to-peer work over here?

14% of donors worldwide have created an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. How many donors simply felt the tools available to them from organizations with outdated campaign tools forced them to look to new platforms to simply do it themselves?

What tools do you have, or could you have, to enable and empower donors to create their own campaigns to work through your organization instead of around it?

And perhaps more importantly, how much have you explored and analyzed the existing user experience for the tools you do have to ensure that drop-offs aren’t costing you contribution opportunities?

Tie your cause to policy.

91% of donors worldwide vote regularly. It’s important remove barriers and distractions while donors are heading down the conversion funnel. However, as they head down this path, you can learn more and more about their interests and motivations.

But what’s the point if your site isn’t then providing them additional access to relevant content, policy updates, sharing opportunities and more?

Foster a sense of urgency.

41% give in response to natural disastersIt’s easy to read something like this and dismiss it if you feel your cause doesn’t align with something like a natural disaster. However, there is an opportunity to better articulate a sense of urgency with your cause.

Infographics and calls to action that break down numbers from the annual to the daily or even by the hour, can give potential donors a new, accurate perspective on the need, while also amplifying the need to act soon to help make a real difference in people’s lives.

Social Media surpasses Email, and Instagram is charging ahead.

29% of donors credited social media as the communication tool that most inspires giving, ahead of even email at 27%. Additionally, Instagram (20%) is now more influential than Twitter (13%) and YouTube (6%) combined. The preference for social media applied for donors across generations (Millennials and Generation X) with the exception of the Baby Boomers, who are still most inspired to give via email.

This is a good time to analyze where you are prioritizing your efforts and who your audience is. It’s also good to remember that with the many ways social media can be embedded and extended, it’s a more difficult category to clearly define.

It’s also important to understand what is feasible for each platform. For example, micro-donors ($100 or less) are most inspired to give via social media. Make sure a social campaign is designed to embrace donors at the levels they are comfortable giving.

Cleaving off Facebook from other Social Media. While Instagram has proven its influence, Facebook is still the big dog, with 56% of donors crediting it as the social media that most inspires giving. In addition, 18% of donors worldwide have given through Facebook fundraising tools, and 88% of those donors said they plan to do so in the future.

With that in mind, it might make sense to think of your digital donor strategy as focusing on the following pillars, in no particular order:

  • Web
  • Email
  • Social
  • Facebook

Build trust through security while continuing to inspire.

92% of donors say it is important that NGOs, NPOs & charities make a concerted effort to protect their contact & financial information from data breaches. This can seem daunting. However, we recommend either implementing or double-checking on the following approaches:

  • Ensure your sites have an updated SSL certificate. In addition to just being a good practice, Google and other search algorithms are rewarding HTTPS sites.
  • Undertake a GDPR audit.  In North America, 83% of donors do not want organizations to share their contact information with other organizations. In the EU, regulation has made data protection a priority for people around the world and it can be confusing to know where to start or what to prioritize. We’ve undertaken a range of GDPR analyses and upgrades for clients and can help you understand what is vital based on your location and your target audiences.
  • Re-educate staff and contractors on security best practices. Frequent reports of hacking and other breaches have significantly increased security as a priority for donors. Often, the key to ensuring a secure environment is not a technical one, but rather a willingness to be vigilant, communicative and focused on maintaining best practices. If you don’t know how secure your systems are, you should ask, and ask often.

Consider how your audience prefer to give. An overwhelming 60% of donors in North America prefer to donate via debit/credit card, more than any other method (direct mail, PayPal, cash, bank/wire transfer) combined. Ease of giving and the feeling of security in doing so is more important than ever so it’s vital to keep in mind the ways in which these methods can be built into your organization.

Giving Tuesday: A day worth making an exception for. On #GivingTuesday in 2017, 22% of North American donors gave that day. We get it. It’s tough to change up everything you’re working on to focus on a single day. However, given that so many appear to give that day, it seems like a good area to keep focusing on. And just a friendly reminder, November 27, 2018 is rapidly approaching.

Map out volunteer opportunities. So many times, we seem to focus more on the hard parts and lose sight of some of the easier pieces of the puzzle.

77% of donors worldwide say they volunteer locally, and 20% of non-donors say they volunteer in lieu of making a donation. Given those percentages, it makes sense to be thoughtful in presenting opportunities for your audiences to be part of volunteering opportunities that align with your cause and their specific topics of interest.

One approach to this could be a targeted map / calendar that lists out opportunities for them to volunteer based on their interests.

Ensuring that the information your site gleans from the pathways taken by these audiences will likely significantly increase engagement.

Design a drumbeat.

56% of North American donors say they are most likely to give repeatedly to an organization if they receive regular communication about the work the organization is doing and the impact that their donation is making. Also, 12% of non-donors said they don’t give because they don’t trust organizations to spend their money well.

Design entails a lot of goals and considerations, but chief among them is about time. Specifically, creating a visual language to help key messages be easily and efficiently consumed and internalized. It’s not enough to simply list accomplishments as a means of articulating impact. By creating a style guide and templates for effectively emphasizing key impacts of supported programs, donors will be more likely to remain supporters.

2018 Global Trends in Giving report:
Public Interest Registry:
Nonprofit Tech for Good: