New High Capacity Donor Data for Your Nonprofit

It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten to talk nerdy about all things fundraising – but with the amount of kids throwing high school graduation parties in my neighborhood – which, I was sadly not invited to ANY - I’m feeling a bit academic today. So we’re going to dive into some fascinating information from our friends at BNY Melon Wealth Management regarding Chartable Giving.


Last month, they released their Charitable Giving Study, which worked through their high net worth investors’ experience and attitudes toward charitable giving.


Now, I realize that we all don’t have an endless funnel of major donors, but while we build our base of potential high capacity individuals, it is REALLY interesting to get a bit of behind the scenes info on what their thoughts are on philanthropy.


Listen, no one wants to listen to an ivory tower theory of giving.


Ain’t nobody got time for that!


But we SHOULD be glancing at, on a regular basis, trends within our own industry. The problem is that no amount of “philanthropy theory” is practical in your 10,000 hat wearing, overly stressed event planning, and board of directors directed nonprofit life.


Feel free to read up on a lot of the great information, but I know you have to call Doris for the 30th time today in order to try and set up a meeting so you can remind her to donate to your summer appeal, and you don’t have the energy to do that AND sift through 25 pages of wealth management speak.


Never fear! I’ve got you!


Here are some of the key takeaways are absolutely impossible to ignore – and I’ve cherry picked my top 3 to pay attention to as we make our way into the second half of the fundraising year.


1. Donating is more than just signing a check. Nearly all those in the survey claim to be at least somewhat engaged with the organizations and charities they support.


This is fantastic news for you and your nonprofit. Because your potential big donors are right under your nose! They are the folks who are associated with, volunteer for and cheerlead already the amazing things you do!


One of the big questions that organizations have is where can we find supporters who have the capacity to give more and more often? The answer – which might be TOO obvious and easy, and thereby clearly not the thing you think of immediately – is right in your close circle. We assume that current donors are giving as much as they can, but have you ever asked them for more, or had a conversation with them about an important funding opportunity to help spread the mission?


The other nugget you can glean from this, is that your donors do NOT want to be seen as ATM’s. They want to feel like they are making a difference in the community and associating with those who are doing good.


Which leads us to…


2. Donating is personal. “Personal Satisfaction” and “Personal Connections” rank as the top two motivators of charitable giving according to this report.


You know, giving back or supporting an organization is the only time I can think of, where being selfish is actually a good and acceptable thing.


It feels great to give!


It feels great to be appreciated!


It feels great to be a part of a winning team that is helping neighbors and strangers alike!


Well, if you want to feel awesome, you end up giving because of the rush and satisfaction you feel of a job well done. Sure, it might be self serving to want to feel that way on the surface, but really, your donors are just becoming in tune with what doing good is, and the direct result is feeling good!


Additionally, this kinda proves that what I’ve been suggesting for years – third party endorsement is exponentially more than first party solicitation – is a real thing that nonprofits should be concentrating on. Get others to help spread the message, mission and meaning of your organization to their connections to help champion your cause as their own.


Which makes even more sense when…


3. Donors take their giving advice from both experts AND family input. According to this survey, many have worked with their wealth advisor (63%) and family members (44%) in developing their giving strategy.


Donors who have the capacity to give and spend time checking their investments, 401K status and the crypto wallet their nephew set up for them over Thanksgiving dinner last year in order to have him stop talking about DogeCoin (we get it Ryan, it’s the future!) are paying attention to where their retirement and place on the financial map is.


And that means they are in constant conversations with those that manage their money, look for ways to shelter cash from the government, or are generally interested in growing accounts to give more away to great organizations like yours!


In addition, and I may be projecting here, they also listen to leaders like yourselves. You run or work at nonprofits, which means you are the experts in the field on how to solve really hard issues with really limited funds. YOU are the voice that the community listens to – and so will donors.


But the MOST interesting nugget here is that nearly half of these surveyed donors listen to their family on why and where they give.


If you are not engaging with more than one person in a household when it comes to building relationships for your organization, you are most definitely leaving money on the table. The influence of those who live and play with your donors are critical in creating a long term funding solution for the supporter themselves and your programs and services they love so much!


Now, there are a ton of other information on all sorts of donor habits, but let’s be honest. Our brains don’t have enough space to comprehend AND execute all of these ways to engage. Though, understanding that many donors intend on increasing their giving, and using a variety of charitable giving vehicles (donor advised funds, stock…yes, even crypto) to support organizations this year is good to keep in the back of your mind.


But for now, keep it simple.


Connect. Tell stories. Talk impact. Build relationships.


You’ve got a great blueprint for raising a ton of money there~


Now, go get ‘em!


-Patrick