AFP CEO Paulette Maehara's Take on Convio's 2010 Holiday Giving Survey Findings
Convio recently released its 2010 Holiday Giving Survey, conducted by Edge Research, which predicts that overall giving during the 2010 holiday season will exceed $48 billion. Furthermore, 74 percent of U.S. adults plan to give before the end of the year — despite the economic troubles that began in 2008.
"People are aware of the economy and the economic impact that it's had on those individuals who are less fortunate than themselves," says Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. "So the economy is a major concern to them, but it's also a concern as it relates to the impact on others less fortunate. At this time of year, people tend to be very emotional in their giving. So when you look around and you see, you read and you hear in news reports that the need has grown significantly in food banks and in social-services organizations around the U.S. and the world, it's hard not to be emotional about it and to be concerned."
That heightened awareness of need and emotion helps explain why online giving alone is expected to top $6 billion according to the survey, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2009.
Maehara recently shared her thoughts on some of Convio's key survey findings in an interview with FundRaising Success.
Target younger donors
According to the survey, 83 percent of Generation Y plans to give this holiday season, while 79 percent of Generation X plans to give. The data suggests that Gen X and Y are actually more likely to give during the holiday season than older generations, evidenced by Gen X's predicted average total gifts of $348 this holiday season, larger than any other generation.
"The really fascinating thing to me was the gift amount for the Generation Y and X donors being larger than that of the boomers or matures. I'm not really sure that I could leap that far, but if that's what the data is saying, it's really fascinating," Maehara says. "The message here is that you can't ignore young donors, or you do at your peril.
"What this research shows us — and I have two daughters who fall into these categories, if they're any indicator this research must be true — young people are very emotional in their giving," she adds. "We could certainly see that in the Haiti [earthquake] response and some of the recent major global disasters that we've had — the text-to-give phenomena that occurred during Haiti. Young people are very emotional. I know this is the one time of year my two daughters do give, whether making gifts themselves or giving contributions to organizations in names of their friends."
Holiday giving is multichannel
Seventy-two percent of donors will give via multiple channels — direct mail, online, at events, store checkout, etc. — this holiday season, according to the survey.
"The one thing's that certainly changed in my almost 14 years now as head of AFP and some 30 years in fundraising is the many types of technologies that are available to make it more convenient and easy for donors, and that's for donors of every age and every generation," Maehara says. "The use of multiple channels of communicating with donors is extremely important and popular among donors because it's easy and it's convenient. And donors, especially younger donors, like to be able to say on their Facebook pages or through Twitter that, 'I've contributed to XYZ organization in your name,' or, 'This is what I've done; why don't you do the same kind of thing?'
"Using every available opportunity at your fingertips and combining those opportunities with very strategic targeted communications to the donor is extremely important, and technology has really allowed us to do that much more efficiently and much more effectively," she adds.
Put a face to your appeal
According to the survey, donors said that appeals that put a face to the donation (either human or animal) and remind donors to help those who are less fortunate at this time of year are the most persuasive.
"One of the messages in this report that I thought was very interesting was putting a face to your cause is extremely important. Animals have done that extremely well for some of the animal-related organizations, as well as the social-services organizations," Maehara says. "Putting a face to the cause is extremely important so that people see the outcome of your efforts — not the fact that you're doing some wonderful work — but putting a face on the appeal and the outcome of what their money will actually go toward is extremely important. The more you can do that regardless of the type of sector you come from, the more effective you're going to be in raising money.
"What's interesting in the research is that few people are persuaded by more practical reminders that the year-end is coming. That's been a traditional tagline or line of direct-mail appeals, year-end appeals, whether they be direct mail, e-mail or telemarketing: 'The year-end is coming, take advantage of your tax-deductible gift now.' That particular message isn't particularly appealing," Maehara adds. "I can't tell you how many of those I've written in my career."
Only 33 percent of respondents say they are persuaded by the more practical reminder that they have yet to make a donation, and even less, 28 percent, say reminders that the gifts are tax-deductible persuade them to give.
Maehara continues: "Putting the face on the appeal and being effective with those messages is really important, whether it's feeding the hungry in Africa or helping AIDs victims on the streets of Los Angeles. The more you can see it, feel it, touch it, the more effective that kind of an appeal is."
The numbers in the survey are much more positive than they were just a year ago, giving fundraisers hope for this holiday season and beyond.
"This survey, along with others, really says how important it is for fundraising professionals and organizations to 1) pay attention to the young donor, 2) pay attention to the technology and the versatility that technology gives you in your fundraising programs, and 3) there is light at the end of the tunnel," Maehara concludes. "The economy does have an impact on giving — we know that — but these numbers are pretty positive and should make the profession feel good about what the potential is for the end of this year, but more importantly what that says about 2011."
Click here to download the full survey report.