Charitable Donors Give More When Asked Personally
CHICAGO, September 22, 2009 — Donors to charitable organizations give more when they are asked in person and when someone they know makes the request, a new study commissioned by Chicago-based consulting firm Campbell & Company and conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds.
The study, Significant Gifts: Where Donors Direct Their Largest Gifts and Why, which is based on a national sample of more than 8,300 donors, confirms what nonprofit organization fundraisers have often observed: people give to people, and especially to people they know. The study examined characteristics of and factors influencing a donor household’s single largest gift.
Donors who were asked to give in person by someone they knew donated 19 percent more ($987) to secular (non-religious) charities, when compared with telephone, mail or email requests from someone they knew ($799).
For religious organizations, when the donor was asked in person by someone he or she knew, the average donation was 42 percent higher ($2,904) than when someone the donor knew made the request using a different tactic ($1,698).
“Volunteers sometimes are reluctant to ask their own friends for donations, but this research confirms that donors are even more willing to give when someone they know asks them personally,” said Edith H. Falk, chair and CEO of Campbell & Company. “By using the best practices of actively requesting support and involving volunteers the donors know, nonprofits can raise even more money.”
Significant Gifts is believed to be the first nationally representative study of donors’ largest gifts, helping nonprofits to better understand the factors that impact where donors choose to direct their most significant contributions.
“A typical household’s largest gift constituted approximately 65 percent of the household’s total giving in 2006,” said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. “If nonprofits hope to receive donors’ most significant gifts, they must build strong personal relationships, acknowledge gifts in accordance with the donor’s wishes, and communicate in ways that build long-term donor loyalty.”