Reader Panel Poll
— Joan Woods
director of development,
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
“Appeal/campaign integration is now our most critical challenge. Donors are demanding to be able to give by mail, by event, by Internet and by phone. They require all the options for their gift transactions. In addition, the majority of donors are asking for personalized URLs and personal Web sites to manage their gift designations. Donors now require more ease of giving and more control over designating a gift by the institution. General fund gifts are a thing of the past. A $50 donor is just as likely to designate where their money is to be specifically used as a $50,000 donor.”
— Roy C. Jones
chief development officer,
“The No. 1 issue is finding ways to communicate in more personal ways to donors and potential donors. People are so busy and concerned with the economy and their careers. Finding a way to break through this is a challenge. However, at the same time, people more than ever are looking for meaning in their lives and for inspiration.”
— Richard Bray
director of donor and community relations,
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Seattle/King County
“For those of us in the higher-education world, working on annual giving, in my opinion, is [the most important issue]. The transition from a social structure based around a home telephone system to one centered around a mobile or ‘personal’ phone number is currently having a larger and longer lasting effect on the ability to raise annual gifts in the economic conditions that we are currently facing.
As larger portions of our constituent bases move away from having a home phone, we are faced with two challenges. The ability to purchase and call cell phones is mired in moral and regulatory challenges that we have never faced with home phones. This is on top of a climate where technology in the form of caller ID and screening has already reduced the contact rates for phone efforts.
The second piece of this has to do with households — cells are inherently individual phones rather than household phones. Thus, couples, parents, any constituency where there are multiple individuals in a household become a much greater challenge to us — we end up calling both the same night or on consecutive nights and have a very difficult time properly matching responses, be it yes or no. A second call rarely produces positive results when the caller is unaware of the results from the first call.
In the long term, there is a silver lining to all of this — software can be updated to manage the household versus individual number issues, and contact rates for those who might consider giving are likely to remain the same with or without technological screening, as those folks are actively choosing to engage the charity.
The number issue is also a short-term challenge with long-term benefits — the biggest benefit being that once we have a confirmed number with permission to contact it, that number will remain the contact number for that record on a regular basis for years, regardless of home location or the prospect even being at home when you are calling.
The still unknown aspect is texting. We have opportunities here to connect with our younger constituents in the way they communicate with one another and only need a cell number to both speak with and text with them. How we make those messages relevant, case-driven and actionable is still an open question.”