Donor Focus: Getting John Q. Public to Hug a Tree
Giving through Earth Share was virtually flat in 2001 and increased by only 3 percent from 2002 to 2003. Last year the organization logged $14 million in workplace-giving donations.
“On some level we should all be environmentalists — we all breathe the air and drink the water,” Stein adds.
A unique pool
For Tom McGuire, vice president of membership programs for the National Wildlife Federation, a member-supported wildlife- and environmental-conservation group based in Reston, Va., the task of broadening the appeal remains arduous.
“Our research tells us that there are 50 [million] to 60 million Americans — one out of every three — who really care about the environment,” McGuire shares. “But when you look at all the housefiles in the sector, we’ve got maybe 3 [million] or 4 million of those people.”
Most environmental files represent the same core donor constituency: well-educated, affluent, older, suburban and predominantly white. Of that universe, about half fall into the distinct “user-group” category — hikers, bicyclists, campers, anglers, hunters, etc., people who generally enjoy the outdoors and wish to preserve a place for their chosen activities.
NWF’s file, for example, is composed of 931,739 24-month donors — 61 percent of which are female. Members of the organization are active sportsmen and nature enthusiasts, as well as individuals who care deeply about endangered wildlife.
Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C.-based conservation organization, maintains approximately 519,329 donors similar to that of NWF. (The organizations most likely share many of the same names.) According to Names in the News California, the Oakland, Calif.-based list firm that manages Defenders’ housefile, 68 percent are women, 33 percent are college educated, 37 percent are over age 65, and 35 percent are between the ages of 50 and 64.
But like Stein, McGuire acknowledges the need to attract a new choir of donors and supporters by freshening fundraising approaches. NWF has kick-started such initiatives online.