We work with numbers/data here and endeavor not to make assumptions. We trust that the data we’re handling is accurate. However, our website acknowledges that fundraising is part art and part science. Sometimes the “art” part relies on assumptions that introduce a risk – a risk like not knowing who has the affinity for your organization and drove the relationship or initial donation.
Our friends at Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts produced an interesting study titled “Who Controls the Wallet” this year. Their survey subjects are Evangelical Protestants, but the takeaways should be lessons for all fundraisers – no matter their donor database makeup.
Their findings show that in Evangelical households, most giving is done jointly with women driving the decision a tiny bit more than the man. So, as a fundraiser among this donor base, I’d assume to always include the female’s name in correspondence as this study shows that she is most likely to be involved. However, household income is a factor as well. Ultimately, the true “giver” may not be reflected on the check, credit card name, or direct mail remit. In this report, assumptions are renamed as “me-search” and can be risky.
Well darn. How can we navigate this?
My advice to you (oh keepers of the databases): capture this information in your CRM if you have it.
The addressee and salutation should be of the individual who has called, emailed, or provided a written message with a contribution. If you conduct thank you calls, use that opportunity to understand the “who” and “why”. Please capture the spouse’s name in the CRM spouse field and make a note on the record as to who is the primary “giver”. This will go a long way to connect with them and strengthen your relationship.