Volunteer fundraisers raise more if they send friends reminder emails, study finds

The study from Australian fundraising consultant Martin Paul found that people who reminded their friends about their fundraising efforts raised almost twice as much as those who did not

A fundraising challenge event
A fundraising challenge event

Volunteer fundraisers raise more money for charity through fundraising websites if they send reminder emails to their friends and family and if they tell people what their donation would achieve, according to the Australian fundraising consultant Martin Paul.

Paul, who is a Sydney-based director of the consultancy More Strategic, presented a paper on peer-to-peer fundraising at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands last week.

The study was based on data from 5,500 fundraising web pages hosted on the Australian fundraising platform Everyday Hero and a survey of 1,000 Australian fundraisers. The research, published last November, found that fundraisers who followed up their initial email asking friends for sponsorship money with a reminder email raised an average of A$1,374 (£650), whereas those who did not raised an average of A$747 (£353). Those fundraisers who emailed more than 251 people raised an average of A$2,059 (£973), compared with A$683 (£323) for fundraisers who only mailed 10 to 25 people.

The study found that fundraisers who told people about the difference reaching their fundraising target would have on their chosen charity raised an average of A$1,323 (£626) and those who told people what their donation would achieve raised A$1,234 (£583). Those who did neither of these things raised A$854 (£404).

The study found that fundraisers who set higher targets and uploaded a personal photo to their fundraising web page were also more likely to raise larger sums of money than those who did not do these things.

Paul said that charities should encourage their volunteer fundraisers to set higher targets and, if resources are limited, organisations should focus their attention on these supporters because they typically raised twice as much as those who accept the default target they are given. But he said that few charities appeared to exert much influence on the targets people set.

According to the study, other effective ways of increasing the amounts raised by fundraisers include recruiting runners who were already committed to the cause. The paper found that "impulse" fundraisers – those who only decided to raise money or who selected their charity at the point of registration – raised half as much on average compared with those whose motivation for taking part was to fundraise.

It said that few charities asked their donors acquired through face-to-face methods to take part in a fundraising event on their behalf, despite these donors having an almost identical profile to typical event participants. It said that charities should be more proactive in encouraging current supporters to take part in challenge events because the average amount raised from a challenge event was typically twice that of an annual regular gift.

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