We’ve all seen the numbers. Roy Morgan figures show charity donations have fallen around nine per cent since 2011 as donor fatigue takes its toll on Australia’s not-for-profit sector. And despite one in four Australians reporting they receive unwanted calls from charities on a weekly basis, many charity organisations are clinging to a business-as-usual approach.
The Community Council for Australia – the peak body representing non-profit organisations – knows things need to need to change. It has called on charities to seriously consider merging with each other to reduce the impact of donor fatigue.
That’s because, according to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, there’s now around 600,000 not-for-profit organisations competing for a slice of Australia’s $11 billion annual philanthropy market. And more charities mean more campaigns, and more campaigns mean more pressure being put on donors who are already feeling stretched.
It’s easy to understand where donors are coming from. Maybe they have supported the same charity for years, yet every time they hear from that charity, it’s a request for more. Or maybe it’s an unsolicited request from an organisation they have never heard of and have no personal connection with. It’s essentially the equivalent of an unknown salesperson showing up at your front door and trying to sell you a product you don’t need and didn’t ask for.
Effective fundraising can never be an anonymous cash grab. It needs to be about building personal connections. It needs to be about inviting donors to be part of a community. It needs to be about encouraging donors to feel a sense of participation – that they have more value to your organisation than the digits on their credit card.
This is where the power of ‘thank you’ has the most impact. At OURTEL, we’ve been running thank you campaigns on behalf of some our most valued clients. There is no request for money involved in these calls. We simply thank the donor for their support, invite them to share their personal story of connection with the charity, and give them space to ask questions or share their frustrations.
It is relationship building at its best – an opportunity to reconnect with your supporters, make them feel valued, and demonstrate that you’re listening to them. By making the effort to contact them without a request for money or additional support, you’re reinforcing that they are part of your community – not just an anonymous source of cash. You’re building a personal connection with them that they will remember when it comes time to review their current level of financial support.
The value of gratitude
Of course I also understand that not-for-profit organisations can’t necessarily be splashing out on feel-good thank you campaigns. Fundraising budgets are tight, and you need to achieve strong return on investment. You need to show good financial results for your fundraising spend.
But, at OURTEL, we’re seeing a significant improvement in fundraising efforts that follow a thank you campaign. In fact, our tele-agents are reporting a fundamental shift in the mood of donors after a thank you campaign.
“The calls are completely different after a thank you campaign,” says OURTEL tele-agent Katelyn Webb. Katelyn has been with OURTEL for more than three years and is one of our young rising stars. “Donors are far more willing to listen to us. They don’t see us a nuisance call, and tend to engage in conversation with us much more freely.”
Webb explains that gives her greater opportunity to build on the donors’ understanding of how their donations are used and the difference their support is making on the ground.
“They seem to have more interest in the next campaign,” she continues. “They feel more connected to it. It feels very much like a continuation of an existing relationship. I’m not just another stranger asking for money.”
Jackie Nixon, agrees. She has been with OURTEL for nine years and is an experienced campaign manager. “Thank you calls give us the opportunity to really get to know donors. They share their stories and we often find common ground.
“So when we call back as part of a fundraising campaign, it’s a total change in approach. It’s no longer a cold, clinical business transaction, but there’s a genuine human connection there. There’s a feeling that we’re working together to achieve a shared goal.”
That’s the magic of gratitude at work. A simple thank you – without strings attached – not only makes the donor feel valued, but also fosters a sense of community. The donor has suddenly become a participant. They are part of something greater than themselves – and that’s an inspiring feeling.
Read part two here.
Find out more about how OURTEL Fundraising Solutions can help you improve your next fundraising campaign results and contact us now.