Midsize business

10 ways nonprofits can boost donations, according to a new survey

Even a small decrease in donations can challenge small nonprofits and negatively affect those they serve. To shed light on giving trends and donor motivations amid the coronavirus, QuickBooks Advanced surveyed 2,000 individual nonprofit donors throughout the U.S.* The results highlight some best practices that may help nonprofits better connect to individual donors and raise their retention averages.

Nonprofit donor trends and motivations in 2020

Donors like to give small amounts often

Among respondents who frequently and sometimes donate money to nonprofits, 29% say they donate every few months. Of those, 55% donate up to $100, on average, per year. 38% donate between $100 and $1000, on average, each year.

The coronavirus has decreased donor giving 

Among respondents who frequently and sometimes donate money to nonprofits, a third says the coronavirus has impacted their financial support negatively. Of those, 34% say they’re giving less today than they were a year ago. 47% say they’re giving less today than they were a month ago.

Tax reform did not affect giving

Tax and regulatory changes have not reduced charitable giving significantly. 76% of respondents who frequently and sometimes donate money to nonprofits say 2018 tax reforms have not affected their financial support.

Donors are loyal to certain organizations

Donors give to the same nonprofits consistently. Among all respondents surveyed, 79% say they always or mostly support the same nonprofits from one year to the next. 48% say they are more likely to support nonprofits located nearby.

Donors like a personal touch—not solicitation 

69% of all donors surveyed say they’re more likely to support a nonprofit if they have a personal connection to it. But they don’t like in-person solicitation at their homes. Respondents say the top three most acceptable means of communication from nonprofits are letters (50%), emails (49%), and social media (36%).

Top 10 fundraising tips from people who support nonprofits 

The survey’s findings, based on the responses of 2,000 people across the U.S. who give money to nonprofits, suggest a range of ways that organizations can get the most out of their fundraising efforts.

1. Focus on small-dollar donors

Asking for many small gifts instead of fewer large gifts can take more work and pose logistical challenges. But it may be a good fundraising strategy for many smaller nonprofits. After all, the majority of donors surveyed fall into the small-dollar category.

Overall, 62% of donors give $100 or less a year, on average.

2. Contact donors every few months

Donors don’t like nonprofits to contact them too often. But they also don’t like nonprofits to go radio silent for long periods. Reaching out to donors every few months is the best way to match the natural donating tendencies of many givers.

29% of frequent donors say they give money several times a year.

3. Focus on donors with a personal connection 

Donors are more motivated to give to causes they feel connected to. So appeal to donors who have personal, family, or community connections to your cause. To do this, you might update donor forms to find out how current donors are connected to your nonprofit.

69% of donors say they are more likely to support causes they are connected to personally.

69% of donors visualization

4. Communicate digitally 

Donors surveyed were more receptive to digital communications than they were to home visits. Learn how to communicate with your donors through digital means. Communication methods might include multimedia, social media, storytelling, and captivating visuals.

The top three ways donors like to be contacted are by email, letter, and social media.

5. Get donors involved 

Look for opportunities to get donors involved in your operations. Many like to volunteer, attend functions, and meet new people through their support of nonprofits. To meet social-distancing measures, you might host webinars and open forums to discuss your organization’s issues and actions. Context can help donors feel like part of the team.

In addition to giving money, 53% of donors like to volunteer for nonprofits.

6. Help donors set up automatic donations 

Ask donors if they’d be willing to make regular donations automatically. Receiving automatic donations can help you predict cash flow and make donors feel more like subscribers or team members instead of one-time givers.

Just 11% of donors make monthly donations from their bank account.

7. Focus on each donor’s wellbeing 

In your communications, you might talk up the benefits donors may get when they give. Benefits include the satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with helping others and being active members of a community that cares. Alan Cantor, a nonprofit consultant, believes the best way to get donations is to offer support just as wholeheartedly as you ask for it.

“There is indeed a way for nonprofits to offer support and to seek it at the same time,” he said. “In the coming weeks and months, successful requests for charitable donations will need to be embedded in a larger expression of mutual support, empathy, and solidarity.”

8. Don’t be afraid to ask twice

According to the survey, donors give to the same nonprofits regularly. Many donors have personal connections to the causes they support. Those connections may explain why donors are choosing to give to more local nonprofits than national or multinational organizations.

79% of donors support the same nonprofits every year.

9. Give donors more influence

The QuickBooks Advanced survey also revealed what nonprofits could do to motivate donors to give more. Respondents say nonprofits should involve donors more closely in how organizations use their money. But at the same time, many said a simple gift or thank-you letter would be enough to encourage them to give more.

42% of donors would give more if they could influence how nonprofits spend their money.

10. Use your website

37% of survey respondents said they like to donate in person at fundraising events. The coronavirus made this impossible for many in 2020, but the good news is that online donations came a close second. 34% of donors identified online donations were their preferred method of giving. One in 4 respondents rounds up purchases at grocery stores. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 sends checks to nonprofits.

34% of donors visualization

Now’s the time to keep donors close

Even in challenging times, small nonprofits have some fundraising advantages in their ability to connect with small-dollar donors. And they may find success with those they can engage in their cause and organization. The social and economic stress of the coronavirus can make donors’ connections to organizations even more impactful. Nonprofits that can cultivate honest and heartfelt interactions with their donors may leverage those authentic connections for support.

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