Most donors 'happy with charity communications'

Perception that many feel inundated is misguided, says new research

The idea that most supporters feel bombarded by communications from charities is not accurate, according to research unveiled at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention yesterday.

In-depth interviews with 150 people, drawn from a sample of 500,000 supporters from nine charities, found that some people actually wanted more information about what their chosen charities were doing.

Only 17 per cent of respondents said the charities they supported communicated with them too frequently, and 72 per cent said the level of communication was "just enough". Eleven per cent said charities communicated with them "too rarely". Comments from interviewees included "they don't talk to me enough" and "I want more feedback on the use of donations".

Tim Hopkins, director of planning at direct marketing agency TW CAT, which carried out the research, said the perception that supporters felt they were being inundated with unwanted communications from charities was misguided.

In a separate analysis of Stroke Association supporters, TW CAT found that eight pieces of communication were needed to get two or more donations from supporters. "There is a demonstrable link between the number of times you ask and the number of gifts you get," said Hopkins.

The main research also suggested that fears that donations were falling because of the recession might be overblown.Only 20 per cent of respondents said they were giving less because of the downturn and only 14 per cent said they were supporting fewer
causes. "Gifts to charity are not life-changing sums of money, so people are comfortable with them," said Hopkins.

However, one area of giving where the recession did seem to be having an impact on donor behaviour was the decision to support a new charity.

Sixty-one per cent of interviewees said they were less likely to start giving to a new charity now, although 28 per cent said they were more likely.

Hopkins advised charities to maximise donations from supporters when they first gave, because eight out of 10 gave at the same level for the duration of their support.

He also advised charities to look into retention of donors. The research found a big drop in donor retention - from 86 per cent to 59 per cent - between the second and third years
of a supporter's relationship with a charity.

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