According to a new research study, providing data on your nonprofit’s impact doesn’t necessarily lead to more donations.
The research details an experiment in which Freedom From Hunger sent direct-mail appeals to its supporters. All of the appeals included a narrative story about how its programs benefited an individual, and some of them also included scientific data on the impact of the non-profit’s work.
The results showed that donors who had given $100 or more in the past were more likely to give again when they encountered the data on the charity’s impact. But donors who had given less than $100 were less likely to donate when the appeal included the data.
So what can we learn from this research?
Your Donors Are Not The Same
They may give in similar patterns, or have similar profiles, but your donors are unique in what motivates them to give. If you understand the differences and how to tailor your message for different audiences, you will see much higher response rates.
In this case, donors who gave less than $100, were motivated by emotional stories but not data. Donors who gave more than $100, on the other hand, were more deliberative in their decision to give, and were motivated to give based on actual impact data. So, in this case it makes sense to segment donors based on how much the gave previously. If they gave more than $100, include impact data. If they gave less than $100, don’t include the impact data.
There are lots of other ways to segment donors to get higher response rates, and you should experiment to see what works for your organization.
Donor Data is Critical to Success
If you want to be able to segment donors to send targeted mail that gets higher response rates, it’s critical that you track donor data on giving trends, location, age, contact type, history, interests, etc.
In fact, your database of donors is one of your most valuable resources, so be sure to record all details, and keep it up to date. Do you know the frequency of donor donations? The time of year they donate? How about where they are located? All of these things can become tools to help you better communicate with donors in a way that appeals to them, so you see higher response rates.