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#58 The Perfect Donor

As a young fundraiser, I was raised to believe that the perfect donors are middle-class women in their forties and fifties whose children have left home. They are their family’s charitable decision maker and will often donate through their joint credit card.

I’m not saying that this is still true, or ever true for that matter. I’m not even saying that there is such a thing as the perfect donor. The perfect donor is a fluid concept. There are different perfect donors for each charity, and more specifically, for each channel of recruitment or funding need. If your cause needs to build a dog shelter in the next six months, you do not want a donor who matches the perfect face-to-face acquired characteristics, you might want a major donor, trust or grant to get involved.

My background is almost entirely regular giving, and as such I have instructed fundraisers and clients to look for a certain type of donor who will give long term to their cause. Simple directions such as the location of the fundraising efforts to be in higher SES areas, adding payment method KPIs to contracts and limiting billable donors to those who are 25-years and older with multiple valid contact details and a job is a no-brainer.

Furthermore, we know that the industry is trialling donor commitment versus experience surveys to plot a predicted course for the newly acquired donors based on their answers, and one of the greatest strengths of face-to-face is the amount of data that it can capture, so we are primed to offer the donor a world class service.

Even the laziest face-to-face fundraiser will collect the donor’s name, date of birth, address, occupation, phone number, email address, and bank or credit card details. These are vital pieces of information when building a profile of your donor base, but there are a few easily captured pieces that we are not even trying to collect.

Although the most important question to ask all of our donors is ‘why did they give’, we make little effort to answer it. With this answer we can map a long-term journey that travels through upgrades, extra gifts, peer recruitment and eventually the holy grail of bequests. So why don’t we ask it?

I don’t know why we are not pursuing this information, but there is a solution. Ask. The simple question, ‘what inspired you to give?’ on the iPad giving a few options that reflect the pillars of your work will give you the data that you need to tailor the donor journey and understand why people take your cause to their hearts.

With the personal details, the answer to this question, and historic giving habits we can also create a channel-specific donor profile that we can use to identify our best future donors and incentivise our in-house or agency teams to recruit more donors who match them.

So, who are your perfect donors?

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