Latest News

Analysis: What do donors want?

Written on Sep 28, 2022

A national study of donors to better understand the factors important to them in securing their loyalty to a nonprofit over a long period of time shows the world is evolving and donor sentiment is shifting.  

How do nonprofits get donors to stick around through change in a time when statistics from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project show that industrywide retention numbers consistently sit below 50%? 

The study by RKD Group set out to explore how do donors feel about the organizations they support. 

The findings indicate that the biggest differentiators between donors who had weak and strong relationships centered around the notions of feeling valued and involved. 

The data in the report comes from an online survey of 1,334 U.S. donors and conducted in May 2022. 

Survey respondents made up a nationally representative sample of people who gave at least $25 in the previous calendar year (excluding place of worship).  

Key findings: 

  • Attributes like whether the organization is trustworthy (29% gap), puts the donation to good use (35%) and makes a great impact (37%) played less of a role in driving belief than whether a donor feels valued and important. 

  • The areas with the biggest gaps between strong and weak included feeling connected to the organization (68%) and good communication that goes both ways (58%). 

  • Donors with strong relationships also said the nonprofit values their opinion (57%), cares about their point of view (54%) and keeps them informed (52%). 

  • Even the terms respondents used to describe themselves varied based on the strength of their relationship. Those with strong relationships were more likely to say they were a volunteer (32% gap), activist (26%), patron (24%) or ambassador (22%), compared to a donor (0%) or supporter (13%). 

  • The survey found that donors with strong relationships were far more likely to visit a nonprofit’s website, communicate with staff, engage on social media, attend events or volunteer. 

  • Donors with strong relationships are also more likely to watch a nonprofit’s videos, attend events, volunteer or download an ebook. 

  • Obviously, giving amount can be an indicator of a relationship. That’s why giving levels are important in all applications of segmentation and modeling.  

  • When it comes to charitable giving, there is a bigger gap between donors with strong relationships and those with weak relationships in digital channels like social media, email, text messaging and website. Offline channels like TV, in-store, radio and direct mail show similar support across relationship types.