BlogSpot: Donors Wonder Where Their Money Goes
How loyal is the average donor? Not very, it seems. "In many large national programmes fuelled by direct mail," fundraising guru Mal Warwick observed in 2005, "no more than 25 [percent] to 35 percent of newly acquired donors ever give so much as a second gift."
And that was then. These numbers never go up; they always get worse. A 2012 report from the Direct Marketing Association found that response rates to direct mail had dropped "nearly 25 percent over the past nine years." It's relatively easy to get a first gift. It's consistently hard to get a second gift, especially during a worldwide economic downturn that leaves everyone feeling poorer.
There's more bad news. "Public confidence in charitable organisations … continues to stagnate and shows no signs of recovering [from a 2001 decline], according to … the Brookings Institution," The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in September 2004.
Only 11 percent of Americans thought charities did a "very good" job of spending money, said Brookings. The other 89 percent had their doubts. In fact, more than one-quarter of Americans in 2004 believed charities were inept at managing money, according to the report.
And that was before the Great Recession made everyone grumpy. As I said, these numbers never get better.
Be aware: Charities are guilty until proven innocent. Part of the problem is the name, I suppose. We call ourselves "nonprofits." And what does that label say subliminally to the layperson? That we really don't care about money.
U.K. researchers once asked donors to guess, "What percentage of your gift does your favourite charity spend on its fundraising activities, rather than on programmes?"
Donors — yes, donors — believed that most of their gifts, fully 65 percent, never went into the field. It was instead ploughed back into fundraising and related overheads, leaving only a small share, a mere 35 percent, for changing the world.