Is donor loyalty changing? It would appear to me that older generations were more consistent about their giving. An organization could count on a monthly gift from their regular supporters and these individuals would give for years and years. Is that different today? Younger generations seem to respond more to a one-time appeal than give to an organization for several years. I think of Haiti as a perfect example. It is great to see how much people are giving to Haiti, but they are mainly one-time gifts. Almost all of the individuals who are giving to Haiti will not continue an ongoing investment in rebuilding and changing the lives of people in Haiti. They are giving in response to an appeal, to a horrible disaster that happened.
When I look at Haiti as an example of the new kind of donor loyalty I’m not sure if I should be encouraged or discouraged. On the one hand it seems that people today are more aware of what is happening in the world and want to help to make a difference. However, sometimes it appears that people give according to the biggest giving fad. Whether it’s Save Darfur, the (RED) Campaign, LIVESTRONG, or many other names, donations seem to go in phases to these groups. How should we respond to this developing trend? Does the decline in donor loyalty impact they way that we thank one-time annual fund donors? Should we invest less in cultivating repeat donor gifts? It sometimes feels like every campaign appeal I send out is written to sound more and more urgent. Does there come a time when we will need to differentiate between urgent needs and operational needs?
I’d love to hear back from you as to whether you have observed this as a trend or if it is just me. Is your organization experiencing a decline in donor loyalty? Do you have a hard time holding onto your monthly or regular donors?