Think Through What You're Asking

Two recently released studies illustrate the biggest opportunity–and challenge–facing fundraisers today.

On the one hand, they must find new donors. A just-released Google and Millward Brown study, The Path to Donation, focuses on the uptick in donor searches now (August) as a preface to year-end giving plans. According to the study, 75% of donors start researching online and almost half visit the organization's website prior to making a donation.

A Blackbaud study released earlier this month, The Next Generation of American Giving, takes a slightly different perspective in that it focuses on current rather than new donors.

Nonetheless, it also cites visiting the organization's website as an important engagement tool (44% for Gen Y; 38% overall) as well as a transactional tool (42% for Boomers).

[As an aside, this study is filled with interesting information; it's well worth your time to download and look through it.]

But to me, here's the kicker from the Blackbaud report: "Nearly half of those who give engage with causes in ways other than making donations."

And therein lies the challenge.

As fundraisers, it's our job to know how to use the tools. To optimize searches, for example. To use the web site to build our case for giving. To make the transactional tools easy to use.

But those are the means to an end, not the end itself.

Ultimately, it's what the organization does that attracts donors and stirs their passions.

The Blackbaud study, in addressing what influences giving, starts by asking "How is my money actually making a difference?"

The Google/Millward Brown answers by pointing out that 74% of donors do so because they believe in the mission of the organization.

We'd all do well to remember that, even from the earliest stages of search!