In-person ‘asks’ boost fundraising

Echoing conventional wisdom in the fundraising profession, nonprofits can raise more money if donors are asked for gifts in person by people they know, says a study that examines where and why donors make their largest gifts.

Donors to secular charities who were approached for a gift face-to-face by an acquaintance gave an average of $987, or 19 percent more than those contacted by an acquaintance through mail, email or phone, says the study, commissioned by Campbell & Company and conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Donors to religious organizations gave an average of $2,904, or 42 percent more when they were asked in person by someone they know.

Among all donors, the average size of their largest gift was $1,098, and 43 percent of people directed those gifts to secular nonprofits, while 57 percent gave to religious groups.

Among households with income of $150,000 or more, the average largest gift was $2,486, more than double the average gift size for all households.

And while recognition for donations may boost gift amounts slightly, providing token gifts resulted in the second-lowest average gift value, the report says.

“With token recognition, donors may see their contributions as transactions, but donors who receive more personal recognition better understand how their gift impacts an organization’s work,” Peter Fissinger, president of Campbell & Company, says in a statement.

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