Donor loyalty focus could add millions of pounds to fundraised income, research indicates

Large charities could raise millions of pounds more by focusing on donor loyalty, researchers say.

Donors who most trust the charities they support, and who are personally committed to the success of those charities, will give more and are more likely to consider leaving them gifts in their wills, according to the consultancy About Loyalty.

The paper, published today, defines donor loyalty as “the emotion that people feel towards the causes that they support” and identifies commitment, satisfaction and trust as the key drivers of donor loyalty.

It argues that a charity which improves levels of loyalty among a donor base of 70,000 givers could see £1m more in fundraising over three years.

The data is based on analysis of donations to 12 major charities made by nearly 49,000 people since 2019.

By scoring donors from one to seven on a range of emotions, the researchers found that a one-point increase in loyalty translated into a 15 per cent increase in the number of donors over three years, with the value of donors’ gifts rising by 20 per cent over the same period. 

It also resulted in 9 per cent more donors saying they could consider remembering the charity in their will.

Researchers argued that the most important emotions to increasing loyalty are commitment (“it is important to them personally that you are successful”), satisfaction (with the donor shown that their “expectations are exceeded”), and trust (with the donor believing that the charity is “effectively making a difference”).

The analysis showed that trust was more important to donors who support global development charities compared with all other categories of charity.

The paper also said that the most loyal donors were those recruited through direct marketing on television, followed by those who see marketing material online. The least loyal are those recruited through door-to-door fundraising. 

Roger Lawson, director and founder of About Loyalty, said: “We’ve all known for many years that the way we make supporters feel directly impacts whether they’ll go on to support us again. But we’ve never been able to prove the relationship with future giving, or which emotions are the most powerful. This ground-breaking study proves just that.

“For charities that want to grow supporter loyalty and long-term income, these are essential insights that can and should be applied at the very heart of every supporter development programme.”

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