Five years ago (2018), OneCause released its first Social Donor Study which examined the giving experience of donors who participated in auction events, peer-to-peer fundraising, occasions/challenges, and giving/awareness days. The research was groundbreaking because it provided a glimpse into the mindset, motivators, and behaviors of today’s donors, as reported by the donors themselves.
A second report (The Giving Experience: Social Giving in a Time of Social Distancing) was released in 2021, tracking trends of social giving during the pandemic. This year, in 2022, we released The Giving Experience: Understanding Evolving Donor Expectations to provide longitudinal comparison data on all three Social Donor reports.
The goal of these findings is to help nonprofits and fundraisers like you navigate and understand what makes today’s donors tick, stick, and stay.
There’s no denying the future of fundraising is an altered landscape. But there’s hope if we embrace what today’s donors are looking for!
Let’s dive into the 2022 key research findings and how you can use them create a giving experience that drives generosity:
The Giving Experience 2022 study focuses on the motivations, expectations, and behaviors of social donors who:
Approximately 29% of U.S. adults surveyed self-identified as a social donor in 2022. When you do the math, that means there were approximately 96.4 million people who participated in social giving in the 12 months prior to the 2022 survey. This continues an upward trend in social giving participation, which has risen 6% since 2018.
With more social donors giving to more organizations than ever before, it’s the perfect opportunity for your organization to reach, engage, and retain donors. There’s army of energized givers is waiting to connect with you. You just need the right strategies to engage them!
The key lies in tapping into the unique motivators driving generosity for today’s social donors. For them to not only give, but stick around, nonprofits must:
The pandemic changed so much about our lives, including donor’s expectations for giving. It’s important that the giving experience evolves and keeps pace with changing donor expectations.
Since our first social donor study in 2018, the top motivators driving social giving have consistently been ease, mission, and impact. This year, trust moved into the number one spot with 6 in 10 donors indicating it’s the most important factor when choosing to donate to a nonprofit. Trust was closely followed by a tie at 58% between connection to the mission, ease, and immediacy.
With such a range of motivators driving donors, it’s helpful to view them as an ecosystem.
Building an easy, frictionless giving process, creating a community of donors that’s welcoming and inclusive, effectively sharing your organization’s mission, and consistently conveying impact are all part of creating the ultimate generosity motivator: trust.
So, how can you foster trust with your current and future donors?
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. Keeping this in mind as you plan your messaging and fundraising will go a long way to garner trust and connection with today’s donors.
In addition to trust, ease, mission, and impact continue to be the secret recipe to creating a strong giving experience.
Let’s break it down – ready?
It’s important to note that for first time donors, ease slightly edged out trust as the top giving motivator. When trying to reach new donors, an easy giving experience is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ but a ‘need to have.’
Social donors want their giving to be seamless, so it’s time to examine your traditional and technology-based giving opportunities to ensure a seamless experience. They also want to understand how their donation will make a difference. That means a nonprofit’s mission, impact, and reason for giving needs to be at the forefront of any message in order to engage social donors.
Social donors are heading back to the ballroom, golf course, venues – wherever, as long as it’s in-person! Seventy-four percent of respondents said their last social giving experience took place in person, and 26% reported they participated virtually. In 2021, only 49% of donors reported that their last event experience took place in person, with 51% saying it was virtual. This is GREAT NEWS for fundraisers and nonprofits!
For today’s donors it was reported that in-person events are perceived as higher quality than virtual events, and attendees of in-person events are more likely to want to participate again next year.
However, it’s all about offering options! Choice is powerful. Make sure your strategy includes multiple modes of engagement that personalize the giving experience. When building your fundraising calendar, be sure to:
Allowing donors to decide when, where, and how they give is essential. Virtual options help giving converge with ease and immediacy and can allow donors to participate with the click of a button.
More than half of social donors heard about their most recent social giving opportunity through a friend, family member, or colleague.
Giving is very personal, so it makes sense that donors are most likely to hear about a nonprofit’s mission through friends and family! But what does this mean for your cause?
It’s important to arm ambassadors for your mission with templates and technology that make it easy for them to share, thank, and further communicate with donors they engage. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
Furthermore, the top four channels through which donors learned about their last giving opportunity were social media, in person, email, and a nonprofit’s website.
As you form your marketing strategy, be sure to not only diversify the channels you’re marketing on, but your messaging as well. Tailoring your messaging to your specific platform will help you stand out and connect with your audience on a deeper level.
A donor base with diverse marketing interest means there’s a need for:
A social donor’s first gift shows they value your nonprofit’s work. But how do you keep them connected to your mission? The good news is 7 in 10 social donors say they are likely to give again… if you know the secrets to retaining them!
It all comes down to understanding what motivates donors to give and give again.
Feeling like a donation makes a difference continues to be the number one reason that social donors across all generations decide to give again. Social donors say organizations who demonstrate impact well do so by:
Showing who is helped (through videos, pictures, and testimonials)
Giving concrete examples of how their money is helping you achieve your mission ( i.e. your $40 feeds one person for a week)
Are transparent about finances and operations (services vs. overhead)
Regularly communicate results.
Make sure you review your communication strategies, channels, and messaging tactics to be sure that what you’re offering matches what motivates social donors to become regular givers!
Now that you have the basics on social donors, it’s time to think about how to incorporate them into your development strategy. Here’s four simple tips your nonprofit can take to create a social donor fundraising plan:
Together, those elements build the foundation of your relationship with social donors: trust.