The most recent “Health and Well-Being Survey” conducted by Gallup provides alarming insight about the effectiveness of nonprofit donor recognition efforts.
Among those surveyed, 81 percent say they have donated money to a charity within the past year. In addition, 52 percent of survey respondents say they have volunteered their time during that same period.
Given the high-level of engagement, Gallup wanted to determine whether survey respondents were “feeling the love and received recognition for their efforts to help improve the city or area where they live.” Unfortunately, the findings are disturbing:
• Only 15 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “In the last 12 months, I have received recognition for helping to improve the city or area where I live.” This includes 5 percent who “Strongly Agreed” and 10 percent who “Agreed.”
• Conversely, a whopping 69 percent of respondents disagreed with that same statement, including 45 percent who “Strongly Disagreed” and another 24 percent who “Disagreed.”
There are a few things that might explain the disconnect between the philanthropic/voluntary involvement of survey respondents and the recognition they received, or didn’t:
1. Many of the respondents may have donated or volunteered for non-local causes. For example, donors may have given to alma maters in a different geographic region. Alternatively, donors may have given to or volunteered with national or international charities.
2. Survey respondents might not think of their giving or volunteering as “[helping to] improve the city or area where they live.” For example, if one gives to a local animal shelter, she might think of it as helping the kittens and puppies but not necessarily think of it as improving the community.
3. Survey respondents might not fully understand the definition of “recognition.” For example, some donors might think of “recognition” as being profiled in the local newspaper because of their philanthropic efforts. Other donors might think of “recognition” as being honored with a plaque at a special event. Others might think “recognition” means receiving a t-shirt. Still others might think of “recognition” as a well-written thank-you letter.
If the disconnect between giving/volunteering and recognition was small, I wouldn’t be too worried; the disconnect could be explained. However, the disconnect revealed by the survey is massive. Even allowing for a large margin of error for the reasons I’ve just outlined, I suspect we’d still see a significant #DonorLove gap.
Considering the anemic donor-retention rates throughout the nonprofit sector, I’m even more convinced that Gallup has uncovered a legitimate concern. As a statement from Gallup says:
It seems most communities and organizations are missing an opportunity to validate donation and volunteer efforts by recognizing those who offer them.”
Here are just some of the things you can do to ensure your donors and volunteers feel appreciate:
1. Survey your donors and volunteers to see if they feel appreciated. Ask them what the organization can do to make them feel more appreciated. By the way, the mere act of properly surveying your donors and volunteers will make them feel more valued.
3. Track volunteer hours and recognize athem when they hit certain benchmarks. Just as you provide greater recognition to major donors, you should provide greater recognition to major volunteers.
4. Provide donors and volunteers with relevant information about what your organization has accomplished with their support.
5. When expressing appreciation, do not simply thank donors for their money and volunteers for their time. Instead, also be sure to thank them for caring.
6. Further educate yourself. You can read my other posts on the subject of donor relations; you can read the blogs of others; you can study a book on the subject; you can attend a webinar or seminar.
7. Help others by sharing your favorite, most effective ideas for making donors and volunteers feel recognized and appreciated. You can provide your ideas below in the comment section.
Acquiring, retaining, and upgrading support is a challenge that almost every development professional faces. One way to be more successful with your appeals is to provide more meaningful recognition to your donors and volunteers. It costs much less to effectively recognize your supporters than it does to acquire new ones.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?