Donor Survey Suggests Increasing Marketing To Raise Awareness, Attract New Donors

The donors have spoken and they affirmed the role of marketing and communications in fundraising during the economic downturn.

The Rome Group (TRG) hosted its seventh annual conference on local and national philanthropic trends on July 23 at Washington University in St. Louis. This year’s presentation was entitled, “Shifting Opportunities… Creative Responses.” The Gateway Center for Giving also assisted with the conference and the survey.

A random sample of donors were asked, in their opinion, what should nonprofits be doing this year in response to the economic crisis? Fifty percent said to increase overall marketing efforts to raise awareness and attract new donors. The highest response (64 percent) was to “reduce expenses as long as there is no reduction in services to clients.”

TRG is a well-respected organization in St. Louis and the region. (If you’re looking for a job in the non-profit sector in this area, I highly recommend subscribing to the e-mail alerts for job openings.) The slides and notes from Amy Rome’s keynote presentation, which is copyrighted, are available in a PDF, which is about 3.1 MB. Mary McMurtrey, the executive director of the Gateway Center for Giving, also made a presentation.

There’s great information and insight in the content for anyone in the non-profit and charitable sectors. Here’s a couple of key take-away items:

  • Giving by individuals accounts for 75 percent of all dollars donated. Corporate and foundation giving accounts for less than 20 percent of all donations.
  • A recent Johns Hopkins University study of nonprofits found that 83 percent say they are experiencing some level of fiscal stress and almost 40 percent categorize that stress as severe or very severe. According to the study, organizations with revenues between $500,000 and $3 million were particularly hard hit. The study also said the current level of fiscal stress is lower than after Sept. 11, 2001.
  • Finding new ways to communicate an organization’s impact continues to be a challenge.

The chorus from the for-profit sector is telling businesses to market and communicate with existing and new customers. The same should be true for the nonprofit sector when it comes to fundraising. As many organizations begin building budgets for 2010, they could use information from this survey to bolster requests for additional resources for marketing and communications, especially for fundraising.


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