Fundraising software vendor Abila has released its 2015 benchmark report, which draws on data from 270 nonprofit professionals and touches on event and online fundraising strategies and communication tactics. The report is based on Abila’s Fundraising Advisor, an automated tool that uses just six questions to provide “personalized fundraising advice” and apparently mine a little data for Abila.
The short report is well worth a read for any fundraiser who works online, but here are some of the highlights:
- Telemarketing and direct mail are in decline, but not dead yet. We all know this, but the numbers are staggering—email/web and social are the top two channels respondents used to communicate with donors, at 86 percent and 72 percent respectively. In-person events comprised the third position at 71 percent, and direct mail and social were tied for fourth at 68 percent. Phone was at 28 percent, and DRTV and radio were at 11 percent.
- It’s a multichannel world. The vast majority of respondents—68 percent—used four or more channels to communicate with donors. Only 17 percent used two or fewer. But how well are these channels working together? With many organizations still heavily siloed, it’s not clear how well the nonprofit sector has learned to combine and reinforce messaging through multiple channels.
- Nonprofits contact donors less than you might think. Only 5 percent reach out on a weekly basis. 31 percent did so one or two times a month, and over half (51 percent) said “occasionally.” Six percent said “never”—and you have to wonder whether those folks are still employed.
- Only a quarter of respondents thanked donors within 24 hours. Although technology has simplified the process of writing thank-you notes, 75 percent of respondents don’t reach out to donors within 24 hours of their gift. A quarter (27 percent) did so within three days, and another 36 percent within the week.
- Many organizations don’t know their donors that well. About 37 percent only know the most basic information—what Abila calls “donor vitals” (name, title, mailing address, email and phone number) or less.
Technology has simplified many of previously tedious tasks of fundraising—writing and addressing thank-you notes, personalizing contacts, and reaching out to large swaths of donors at once. But it has also created new challenges—the need to communicate on multiple channels, for example—and new expectations, like thanking donors promptly for their gifts.