(Guest post by Kristen Gramigna)
Knowing your audience well enough to communicate when they will most likely respond to your call to action is a basic tenet of marketing. But putting that theory into practice presents additional complexity for nonprofits, particularly when asking constituents to commit money to an intangible cause. Properly timing when you solicit donations can improve the success of your fundraising campaign.
Below are findings about donor behavior that can help gauge when your supporters are most likely to donate.
- When they’re in good company: Regardless of the generosity donors may want to show your nonprofit, research indicates they’re more likely to give when they can form social connections, e.g. through a silent auction, black tie event or a fundraising effort held in a group setting where they are surrounded by like-minded people. “The emotional rewards associated with giving to friends or acquaintances are greatest in situations that facilitate social connection,” from Does Social Connection Turn Good Deeds into Good Feelings?
- When they feel familiar with the cause: Donors and prospects may not know a person directly impacted by their gift, but creating a sense of familiarity between recipient, donor, and your cause can enhance how happy donors feel after giving. Theoretically, they’re more likely to give again when they feel good about doing so. Just as ongoing interaction helps strangers become acquaintances, your nonprofit’s ability to leverage online fundraising tools that use integrated processing for recurring donation and interaction can enhance the sense of familiarity donors feel with your cause. Offering a one-time sign up and an easily accessible donor database that automatically fills in form fields, will make it easier for donors to make consistent, recurring donations, and to feel “recognized” as a continued supporter — even if they donate less frequently.
- When they’re emotionally impacted: Online donation forms that allow donors to give instantly via credit/debit card enhance your ability to be available for donors when they feel compelled to support your cause. Online donation forms should display well on various screen sizes and orientations, so a donor can easily input their payment information (or retrieve their account from a past donation) from anywhere, at any time.
- When they can boost their image with others: Being charitable can speak positively to a person’s image and boost how others perceive them. By giving donors the option to share the news of their donation on social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, they can reap the emotional payoff of donating without seeming like they’re trying to “brag” about their donation. (Make sure that you also give the donors the ability to conceal the amount they donated, or, not to share at all.) Social proof can also help you build your reach and potential donor base further, by way of your donors’ social networks
- When they feel selfless: It seems logical that giving the donor a thank-you gift would increase their likelihood to give, but some research indicates otherwise. In “The Counterintuitive Effects of Thank-You Gifts On Charitable Giving,” Yale researchers found that when presented with the idea of receiving a gift in exchange for a donation, donors felt selfish; in turn, they were less likely to donate as much money. To counter this problem, be mindful of how you present thank-you gifts to donors, and what you offer. For example, per Charities: Don’t Thank Your Donors with a Gift, combining the positive social payoffs that incentivize donations with a gift (like an invitation to an exclusive donors-only event) can eliminate the feeling of selfishness.
Timing is everything when it comes to finding donor support for your cause. Putting these best practices into action in your fundraising efforts can help your messages reach your donors when they are most likely to respond positively.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, offering non-profit credit card processing solutions. The brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.