What do donors want from charities?
Buried deep in the Charity Commission’s 2016 report (pdf) is a clue. People are almost twice as likely to trust smaller charities as they are big charities. What are small charities doing that big charities could learn from?
At Chuffed, where thousands of small charities and nonprofits crowdfund online, we’ve interviewed donors who’ve given to more than 20 campaigns, to understand what keeps them coming back time and again. This is what they said they want.
1. A Direct Connection With Projects
Donors want to follow what happens with the projects they support. They aren’t after stylised impact stories; they want direct updates from the people they’ve given money to. As one stated, “If you donate to a big charity, you donate and it’s done. With crowdfunding, I get interaction, feedback, updates…”
When Darren Hougham went to Dunkirk to build a school in the refugee camp, for example, he filmed short videos on his phone. Back in the UK, he would use the videos in a short update for his donors, and each time he posted a new burst of donations would come through that ultimately raised £15,000.
2. Personalised Messages
When big charity fundraisers are recruiting wealthy donors, their approach is all about personalisation. They only contact donors they know are interested in their issue and the message is entirely customised to them.
When it comes to ordinary donors though, big charities use a “spray-and-pray” approach, broadcasting the same message in the same way to as many people as they can. If I’m passionate about animals, I still get targeted by dementia, international affairs and medical research charities.
Small charities have a way of personalising things for even their smallest donors – by getting their fans to spread the message for them.
When Rob Caslick created an urban rooftop garden on top of his local church, he recruited a dozen “foot soldiers” – people with a particular passion for his project – who could help him spread the word. They helped design the campaign, got an early release of the campaign video and were given email templates to send out. When the campaign launched, these people were the first to donate and they also sent out hundreds of messages to friends encouraging them to donate. The result: Rob raised his $15,000 target in 50 hours.
To read the full Guardian Voluntary Sector Network article click here.