Motivating Social Donors: Why Trust is Important to Your Fundraising Success

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Over the past five years, nonprofit organizations have continuously refined their social fundraising tactics to support a growing segment of supporters: today’s Social Donors.

Now, nonprofits need to analyze which of the strategies to reach and engage these donors generate successful, sustainable practice, what no longer serves their donors, and what new ideas they can implement to exceed donor expectations.

Good news! We’ve made that easy.

The 2022 Giving Experience Study was released by OneCause to capture the evolving expectations, generosity motivators, giving patterns, and future intentions of over 1,000 Social Donors AND examine how they have changed over the past 5 years.

One of these changing generosity motivators is trust. Trust has grown in importance, now surfacing in 2022 as the top motivator that today’s donor must have when giving to a nonprofit organization.

So, let’s dive into this trust, the newest top motivator, and how it can impact your fundraising success.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Why Trust is the Center of the Generosity Motivator Ecosystem
  • 3 Steps to Help Build Trust to Improve Conversion & Retention
    1. Sharing Impact
    2. Creating an Easy, Secure Giving Process
    3. Foster Inclusion

Why Trust is the Center of the Generosity Motivator Ecosystem

Ease, mission, and impact have been the recurring top motivators for Social Donors within the last 5 years (according to the 2018 Social Donor Study and the 2021 Giving Experience Study). While they still remain key drivers of social giving, in 2022, trust emerged as a key motivator for the first time.

Fifty-nine percent of donors indicating trust is the most important factor when donating, closely followed by a tie at 58% between connection, ease, and immediacy.

After a turbulent couple of years, Social Donors are looking to nonprofits for reassurance that donations are being put to good use and that organizations are acting with integrity. They want to be confident that their hard-earned dollars given to a charitable cause are making an impact. If you want to reach and keep today’s Social Donors, you have to build and sustain trust.

To understand the connection and importance of these top motivators that drive social givers, it’s helpful to view them as an ecosystem. Each motivator is independent, but when they are connected they are the key elements in the giving experience that foster credibility with supporters.

Figure 10 below illustrates that building an easy, frictionless giving process, creating a community of connection, effectively sharing your organization’s mission, and consistently conveying impact are all part of creating the ultimate generosity motivator: trust.

Each of these motivators plays a critical role in driving more donors to participate while keeping them engaged in your cause beyond the gift. Without trust at the center, it’s hard to sustain a deeper relationship with donors that ignites continued generosity.

You may be thinking… “Okay, this may be true for my younger donors, but what about donors in other generations that give more to my cause?”

Good question! Answer: Across all generations, trust is in the top 5 motivators, along with immediacy (quick and efficient access to giving).

So, now you know why trust is important. But how can you build trust?

3 Ways to Build Trust to Improve Retention & Conversion

Building trust in your nonprofit doesn’t happen during the course of a single event or during a one-time giving transaction. It is built in the small and big interactions with your donors, as well as how you message, act, and demonstrate stewardship for your mission and your supporters.

The list below can help you grow public confidence and credence in your mission, increasing the likelihood of a first donation from a brand-new supporter, AND boosting retention and recurring giving amongst your current supporter base.

1) Regularly share impact of donations.

Social Donors say organizations that demonstrate impact well do so by:

  • Showing who the cause helps through multichannel marketing with videos, pictures, and testimonials
  • Giving concrete examples of how their money is helping you achieve your mission (e.g. your $40 feeds one person for a week)
  • Being transparent about finances and operations (services vs. overhead) and regularly communicate results

Make sure you review your own communication strategies, channels, and messaging tactics to see any gaps that you can fill by sharing impact with your donors!

2) Create an easy, secure giving process.

Ease breeds trust for today’s donors. Confidence is created through frictionless philanthropy and making generosity easy so it creates a positive and seamless giving experience.

Think about your own consumer interaction in your everyday life. Making it easy creates a trust with a brand. “Wow that was easy – they sure have it together. I like them and want to keep shopping there.”

The same holds true for today’s donors. Making giving seamless and creating a positive giving experience all builds your nonprofit brand and engenders trust. So, what do you need to do to ensure your giving process builds your nonprofit credibility and deepens your donor connections?

Take a look at the process of your giving experience.

  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is your brand prominent?
  • Do you showcase your mission and impact front and center?
  • Do you have social proof points visible or impact statements?
  • Is giving fast and easy? How many clicks?
  • Is it easy to register? Is there information about secure processing?
  • Do you offer alternative payment methods from trusted platforms?

Choosing the right platform to host your fundraising event or online campaign is critical to creating a seamless giving experience. Many (like OneCause!) have built-in security options and are tailored to be easy, flexible, and fun.

A quick, easy giving process and an aesthetically polished giving page with security indicators makes donors feel at ease, increasing the likelihood they’ll convert AND come back.

2) Foster inclusion.

Inclusion creates a sense of belonging and enhances your nonprofit’s ability to reach more donors and build trust as you usher them into the front door of your mission.

Ever felt left out in a social situation? Don’t do that to your donors! Here’s what you can do:

  • Examine communication and participation preferences across generations and plan accordingly.
  • Consider accessibility requirements for in-person and virtual events to create a more welcoming environment.
  • Provide affordable or free ticket options (whether in-person or virtual) for supporters who may not have the means to purchase expensive VIP packages or pricey admission tickets.
  • Leave room for gender-neutral language where applicable.
  • Invite them to a program that they are helping support.

Featuring social proof points for donors of all ages and races is just as important as physical inclusion at your event too!

Wrapping Up

Building trust with prospective donors will help ensure your nonprofit’s long-term success. This should be encouraging! This means that donors are looking for more accountability from their charitable giving and will reward those nonprofits that meet this need.

Today’s donors want choice, optionality, ease, and trust in their philanthropy. From fundraising events to online campaigns, generosity must join forces with easy-to-use technology to create flexible and trustworthy options that foster giving and meet social donor expectations.

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