Personalizing the giving experience with donation options

Donor management software gives nonprofit organizations the tools they need to provide a unique and meaningful experience for their constituents. Being able to offer myriad directed giving options to contributors can increase a charity's scope and donor retention over time.

What is directed giving?
Directed giving involves providing options for donors as to how their funds will be spent. It empowers givers to have more control over what causes they support and what issues they finance. Often, large corporations will provide directed giving opportunities to employees. This means that a worker can decide which organization or function their philanthropic contribution will go to. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital and Clinics offers its employees a range of organizations to which they can contribute each year. The UW Hospital and Clinics then orchestrates fundraisers for each group.

Donors appreciate results and prefer nonprofits that make them feel like part of a family.

What do donors want?
At the end of the day, donors want to know that they are making a measurable difference. As Michael Rosen, a certified fundraising executive and nonprofit marketing consultant, noted, the younger the donor, the more important it is for him or her to see their impact. Transparency is essential.  Donors need to feel as though they are partners with the organizations they support; they like knowing what is going on within the nonprofit and what results their efforts have led to.

How can nonprofits provide a meaningful experience?
Organizations should be offering a multitude of contribution methods and motivations. The LIVESTRONG organization has an entire page on its website dedicated to outlining the various type of donations available to contributors. For instance, rather than writing out a check, people can donate their old vehicles to the foundation. Users can also donate in memory or honor of a loved one who battled cancer. There's a way for givers to include LIVESTRONG in their wills, as well. These are all highly focused methods of giving that make the experience much more personal to donors.

In addition, donor management software enables constituents to create their own profiles and monitor their gifts over time. In today's constantly connected and personalized world of online profiles, offering users this perk is a great way to retain contributors for a long time. If they make a profile the first time they give, it will be much easier to track their activity and let them know when the causes they support are in need again.

"At the end of the day, donors want to know that they are making a measurable difference."

When are too many options detrimental?
It is important to note that during some campaigns, there will come a time when offering too many choices to donors will actually diminish the amount of money raised. The Chronicle of Philanthropy stated that during the beginning of a campaign, offering several donation methods is a strong choice. However, once a campaign reaches a certain point – typically about 75 percent of the way through – its time to narrow the scope and let donors know there is only one way to give. This minimizes the deliberation process and makes giving easier. It motivates more people to help the organization meet its goal, rather than delaying the process by letting each contributor decide how to best offer assistance.

Nonprofits looking to expand their donor base and increase their funding should invest in donor management software and diversify their giving options. With a software platform that tracks constituent habits, allows users to set up recurring payments and accurately logs contact information is an invaluable resource for charities in need of a more organized and impactful system. By empowering donors with the ability to make a choice about their funding, they feel more connected to the organization and the cause.