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Glass One-Third Full: The Value of Social Donors

Put a group of fundraisers in a room and there’s likely to be some griping about how difficult it is to raise money, especially in these times. The political climate is diverting from our mission. Giving Tuesday has become diluted. Everybody has their gala at the same time every year. Yadda yadda yadda.

Inevitably, the question is raised: is the return on investment even worth it?

A recent client of mine had a board member tell her, on the heels of their most successful event ever, that she “didn’t think the board should have to do this every year.” Yikes!

Because of these doubts and frustrations, fundraisers are scrambling to find the next Ice Bucket Challenge - a unique idea (or gimmick) that will help the organization cut through the noise and open the floodgates of cash.

Before searching for the end of the rainbow, I would caution fundraisers and boards not to overlook the value and potential of social donors - defined as people who support nonprofits through events and peer-to-peer fundraising activities.

A recent report published by OneCause revealed, based on more than 1,000 social donors surveyed, that 28 percent intend to become annual givers to the organization.

This number may not sound like much, but consider that half of the people surveyed didn’t even know the organization’s mission before they made their first gift, and that across the sector, the retention rate for existing donors is only 45%.

Given that context, I’d say that a nearly one in three conversion rate for donors walking in off the proverbial street sounds promising.

Connecting with committed donors is what makes the effort of event and peer-to-peer fundraising worth the hassle. So at the next gala, make sure the guests are getting a good taste of mission, strategy and impact along with their delicious chicken dinner.