Giving is Declining. What can we do about it?


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This month, Tim and Kerrin were joined by Soraya Alexander, the President of Classy and the COO of GoFundMe, who talked about the changing individual donor landscape and how to create some connections within the landscape.

One of the core themes that the group had discussed was around the idea of looking at not only what causes someone to become a donor, but also what helps to sustain them. However, the donor numbers are on a downward trend, one that Soraya states:

“So dollars maybe are holding, maybe are dipping a little bit. We think we're seeing dollars dip for the first time. But the broad concentration of wealth is showing up in donor behavior as well. And that's really concerning. And I think so many of us spend our time trying to figure out how to respond….We all know this, donor retention is low, but it's not falling. We actually see that donors come back over and over again. And actually, one thing I will kind of dig into is we actually see really interesting trends across donation contribution amounts. So what that looks like is like if you are donating over a thousand dollars, you see almost 40% of those donors return the next year. Whereas those giving under 50 come back at like 10%. And the correlation is completely linear.”

Tim continued to talk about the Fundraising Effectiveness project and how it needs to be empowered for the individual practitioner to do something with the tools to acquire and keep donors. Soraya adds to this, saying:

“When we talk about the allocation of time, it's really easy to say, ‘I've got a number to hit this year. Of course I'm going to focus on the givers who can hit that number, even if that's declining.’ But I think the bigger fear is if you don't manage to capture these small dollar donors now, you're never going to see them. The big dollar donor retention is really low. You actually have to get people from that kind of zero to one gift and then you can cultivate them over time. But, don't worry so much about things like, ‘where is the dollar coming from today?’ Having a little bit more of that long-term longitudinal view of I just need to get somebody in because then I can cultivate this relationship and that act of giving, trying to step them up will be the thing that means I can be successful for the long term for delivering impact from through my mission or not.”

One fun moment in the podcast was Tim talking about his road trip - the Generosity Roadshow from Denver to New Orleans where he had a lively conversation with a Rental Car Agent on donating to a cause. It’s a lighthearted conversation at the 11:24 mark, but it highlights a core thesis about breaking down the barrier of entry to generosity and giving people an easy way to become a donor. Tim states that:

“The dollar amount in some ways, doesn't matter. It's the motivation, it's the drive, it's the passion that really comes through. And our job as fundraisers is to take that momentum and keep it going if possible. But if we start to bucket people into the donor pyramid structure, this is where we start to lose our way.”

Soraya adds that those small beginnings can lead to growth as you nurture and engage with these donors. She states that:

“You have to take a lot of the people who will walk away knowing that some of those $5 donors will become your $10,000 donors. And so you have to engage with all of them as if they're your next big donor. You have to talk to them and you have to continue to engage.”

The group spends a great deal of the conversation talking about how to build relationships with donors, engage with their emotional connection with causes and the level of generosity that grows with that connection. It was a fascinating talk about the mindset shift and how both the Classy and GoFundMe platforms are working to help continue to grow the number of donors using these connections.

Have a listen above for the full conversation. 

If you want to learn more about Classy, head on over to https://www.classy.org/. You can also check out what’s happening at GoFundMe by visiting them at https://www.gofundme.com/ 

Episodes of Untapped Philanthropy are released monthly and always shared on the Fluxx blog. We encourage you to subscribe to the Fluxx blog to stay up to date on new episode releases and follow us on social media for podcast excerpts and more!

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Download the transcript here.

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