In the 2023 Giving Experience Study, we examined how generosity has changed and where giving is headed. We asked 1,101 “social donors” what they expect from their giving experience, what motivates them to trust and engage with a nonprofit, and what influences their repeat giving behaviors.
Our goal 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 a changed landscape. But there’s ways to unlock generosity if we embrace what donors are looking for!
Let’s dive into the 2023 key research findings and how you can use them to create a giving experience that drives giving:
Let’s dive in!
During our first social donor study in 2018, 23% of U.S. adults self-identified as a social donor. During the pandemic years, we saw a sharp rise in social giving as more people turned to their mobile devices and donors were looking for online ways to connect with the causes they support. Flash forward to 2023, and social giving is returning to pre-pandemic levels. This “return to normal” signifies a return to more traditional giving channels and less of a reliance on virtual fundraising as a primary means of engagement.
Now that people are wanting to experience in-person events again, what has changed for today’s donors.
Donors are more excited than ever to be back at in-person events – so much so that eight out of ten donors reported spending time at an in-person event. However, donors are expecting much more now when they step onto the golf course or ballroom. Fewer event attendees rated their experience as excellent, leaving a lot of room for nonprofit improvement. Donors are also looking for options in an event to make it more memorable, such as VIP experiences or specialized ticket packages.
This leaves an excellent opportunity for your nonprofit to impress your donors by creating a unique event that will build trust and deepen engagement!
In 2022, the top motivator for donor giving was trust, followed closely by a 58% tie between connection, ease, and immediacy. This year, the top three generosity motivators are mission, trust, and ease.
Ease continues to remain at the top of donors’ minds, but mission and trust rounding out the top three tell us something too. Donors are returning to mission-focused giving, meaning passions for missions and causes reign heavily in the donation process. Before they give, supporters want to know who they are giving to, and have confidence that their money is going to be put to good use.
Attracting donors is only half the battle. Sustaining giving is one of the hardest hills to climb — but there’s good news! This year’s findings show that donors who participated in events or walk/run/rides are more likely to continue supporting the same organization in the future.
In fact, 75% of these donors said they would “definitely sponsor or participate” in a similar event moving forward. This is a good sign for nonprofits who are building loyalty through events and strong messaging. Inclusivity in your mission and campaigns can go a long way.
Data from the 2021 and 2022 studies showed a large increase in younger, more diverse donors. In 2023, with the return to more in-person fundraising, we are seeing a drop in Gen Z and Black social donors.
Gen Z made up 8% of social donors this year compared to 12% last year but are still more likely to give in response to a current issue or need. However, Gen Z was more likely to say they gave more money than last year, averaging around 50% more giving than expected.
After a gain of 5 percentage points last year, the number of Black social donors decreased by 9 points to 10% in this year’s study. Thirty-seven percent (37%) reported giving more money than they usually do, and 34% said they gave to more organizations — a drastic difference from last year, when half of Black social donors reported giving more money and to more nonprofits.
In last year’s study, trust emerged as a core motivator and expectation in donor motivation. In 2023, it remains a top motivator for social donors with no sign of going away anytime soon.
It’s not enough to have a strong mission. There are several other factors you can do as a nonprofit to influence donors and build trust in your relationship. An easy, frictionless giving process, creating a community of donors that’s welcoming and inclusive, and consistently conveying impact are all part of creating valuable trust between you and your donors.
Economic uncertainty can seem well… uncertain. But it’s not scaring off social donors! This year’s study found that certain groups—typically event donors, Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, men, donors that gave $500 or more, and urban donors—reported that they’re ready to donate annually, or even monthly. This presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits to segment their messaging to reach these groups!
By developing campaigns for specific donor demographics, you can ensure you’re reaching the groups of would-be donors who are interested in contributing!
You wouldn’t want to only eat pizza for the rest of your life. So why would you ask your donors to attend the same event and donate the same way, year after year? Both in-person and virtual donors have reported wanting a variety of options for how they connect with others and donate. Whether it’s a combination of online and in-person donations, or one or the other, providing options for your supporters can go a long way toward meeting them where they are and getting more for your mission.
Even if your organization typically hosts multiple smaller events each year, consider investing in a unique experience that isn’t easily replicated. Creating buzz around your events builds inclusivity and engagement that will have your donors talking about your event long after it’s over!
Now that you have the basics on today’s social donors, it’s time to think about how to incorporate them into your fundraising strategy. These keys to unlocking generosity can help you attract, engage, and retain your supporters in this changed giving landscape.