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Fundraising and donations during the holidays are big business - it’s not called the Season of Giving for nothing! Extending out of old religious traditions of helping the poor at Christmas time and reaching into the 21st century, people still feel particularly motivated to make a difference at this time of year, with 31% of all annual donations given during the month of December.
So how can charities make the most of this?
Know Your Donor
People give to charities for a host of different reasons, but these reasons are always very personal, so it is important to tap into these emotions. Being emotionally moved by someone’s plight or having gone through similar experiences have both been found to be common reasons for a donor’s patronage, which is why it is important to engage your donor in a way they are likely to respond to. Using real-life case studies that speak directly to such shared experiences are very motivating, and often turn out higher donations. Remind yourself why a person would support your cause and go with the emotions that bring them to you.
Know What Works
Over the years, many methods of motivating donations has been tried and tested, and now there’s no denying what works and what doesn’t. Studies found that 61% of people are put off by donating by being approached by ‘chuggers’ - those charity representatives that stop you in the street. On the other hand, 65.9% of people felt compelled to donate by representatives in costume, and 43% by a tough challenge. Familiarizing yourself with what your target market responds well to and adapting your approach accordingly is key, as is investing in the all-important prospect research that will really help you hone in on those strategies that deliver the best results for your charity.
Making charitable donations might be the nice thing to do, but your donors don’t ‘owe’ you anything, and when they’ve worked hard for the money they are donating, they want to be made to feel like they’re doing the right thing, and that they are more than just a number to you. Research shows that the majority of donors - 60% - only donate to a cause once, and quickly jump ship. This suggests that no enough is being done to cultivate that initial interest and create a longer-term relationship. Being thankful to donors from the very beginning and then maintaining that dialogue throughout your relationship with them is key to increasing both the frequency and level of donations, so keep it at the forefront when planning your donor communication strategy.
Make It Personal
When considering whether to make a donation to one cause or another, people want to feel like they are really making a difference, particularly on an individual level. An interesting study into the science of charitable donation found that people respond more strongly to case studies of the individual than they do to a more general ‘en-masse’ approach. For example, if you are collecting for impoverished children, prospective donors are more receptive towards the story and picture of a single child than they are to an entire class of children being treated as a whole. With this in mind, consider approaching your donors with one-on-one case studies that they can relate to.
It’s time to remind your prospective donors of the ‘reason of the season’: to make a difference, to help communities thrive and to do something just because it is good. You already have the time of year working heavily in your favor, so give people that extra push in your direction and maximize the funds that you raise as 2017 draws to a close.