Charities 'should learn to recruit incidental donors'

Fundraisers are failing to tap into a whole new category of potential donors, according to a paper published today. It adds fresh elements to the traditional 'donor pyramid', used by some charities to describe and identify donor categories.

The 2008 Expedition: Re­-discovering and Climbing the Donor Pyramid by Tony Elischer, managing director of Think Consulting Solutions, presents a version of the pyramid that reflects the impact of the digi­tal world and the changing behaviour of modern donors.
Elischer's model highlights a category called ‘incidental donors' near the bottom of the pyramid, which he says are a neglected source of prospects - people who attend charity events
or buy merchandise from time to time.
"A lot of charities have people who are inadvertently supporting them like this, and fundraisers have not been clever enough at capturing this data," he said. "These people connect with the cause, but charities need to make them link the cause to their particular brand."
Elischer's redrawn pyramid also includes a number of new layers. One base level is ‘trydonors' - people who react to a charity's campaign and then wait to see how the organisation responds before getting more involved.
Then there are ‘regular donors', who give money but have little other contact with charities, and have been divided from the category of ‘committed donors'. This is followed by three new levels of high net worth donors, who replace the single category of ‘major donors' in an effort to develop more tailored approaches.
"Charities need to be more open to change," said Elischer. "The digital agenda is forcing us to rethink,
reinvent and move at speed, and those who don't do that will get left behind."

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