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Top insights to better target donors

by | Apr 8, 2023

In February 2023, Williams Whittle, in conjunction with KB Insights, conducted a national survey of adults to better understand donor behaviors and intentions to provide marketing and communications guidance to nonprofits. The pool of respondents mirrors the census profiles of the United States by location and demographics (e.g., gender, age, income, and ethnicity). Similar studies were conducted in 2020 and 2022, providing the opportunity to view trends over the last three years.

Here are the top insights. Click here to view the full list.

  1. Individual success stories make the biggest impression.

When it comes to receiving updates from nonprofits and charities they regularly support, donors prefer information about those participating and benefiting from the program. Storytelling resonates with donors; almost twice as many connect with personal stories than group stories or stats/charts/graphs showing the overall impact of donations.

  1. Donors are giving more money, yet supporting fewer charities.

Median annual giving is consistent with 2022 findings at $251-$500. Large donations ($1,000+) have rebounded slightly compared to prior years; however, very large donations ($5,000+) have continued in a downward trend. Donors are supporting fewer charities than they did in previous years. 81% of 2023 respondents reported supporting between 1 and 5 charities, up from 69% in 2020.

  1. COVID-19 continues to impact giving.

The impacts of the pandemic continue to decrease in 2023, however, 22% of respondents still said they gave less in 2022 due to the pandemic; 17% gave more. Of those who gave less, 70% reported they were financially impacted by the pandemic and had less to give and 26% felt they need to save more money given economic uncertainty. Of those who gave more, 67% said they were helping others experiencing financial hardship, 43% were helping others experiencing COVID-19-related medical issues, and 32% were sustaining the charities/nonprofits of their choice.

  1. Public service announcements continue to influence donations.

Given their usual broad reach, public service announcements (PSAs) often serve as an introduction to potential donors. 34% of respondents said they donated as a result of a PSA, up from 29% in 2022, demonstrating the influence they have in giving.

  1. Email is the preferred communication method to stay in touch and solicit donations, but direct mail is still a player.

More than half of respondents (54%) said they prefer charities/nonprofits that keep in touch via email. Next came direct mail with 36%, followed by social media with 21%. The preference for text message communication increased slightly while newsletters and magazines, a mainstay of nonprofit communications, were preferred by a minority of respondents. When considering donations, the preferred communication methods are consistent with email, direct mail, and social media. However, the preference for phone calls has increased.

Some other important questions that are answered in this survey: Not surprisingly, a nonprofit’s mission is the number-one motivator in giving. But what are the other compelling motivators? What types of nonprofits are donors likely to support in the future?  Which news sources and social media platforms are most influential?

These and many other issues are addressed in the 2023 Williams Whittle KB Insights Donor Survey. For your free copy of the full report click here.

For more on “Ideas that Generate Change for Nonprofits”, visit our website.

About the Author

Lauren Meadows

Lauren Meadows is an Account Executive at Williams Whittle, a leading mid-Atlantic marketing and communications agency with nonprofit, healthcare, social impact and green space clients. We help our nonprofit clients develop targeted strategies to reach out to the communities that need their services the most.

1 Comment

  1. Quint

    This is really interesting. Lovely exec summary. Thanks for sharing.


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