Donors, Volunteers Want Transparency, Engagement, Survey Finds

Today's donors and volunteers expect nonprofit organizations to provide custom-tailored communications as well as a greater degree of transparency around impact, a report from finds.

Based on an online survey conducted by the Harris Poll, the 2016 Connected Nonprofit Report (10 pages, PDF) found that 90 percent of those who donated to or volunteered for a nonprofit organization in the past year believed it was important to understand the impact their contributions made. At the same time, 52 percent of donors did not know exactly how their donations were spent — including 45 percent of baby-boomer respondents and 58 percent of Gen X and millennial respondents. In addition, millennials were more likely (50 percent) to say they would be more willing to volunteer for or donate to a nonprofit if offered "personalized impact data" with respect to its cause than were Gen X (45 percent) or baby boomers (44 percent).

The survey also found that 24 percent of all volunteers and donors said they would be more likely to volunteer or give to charity if opportunities were suggested to them based on the causes they were interested in, including 33 percent of millennials, 29 percent of Gen X, and 15 percent of baby boomers; that 75 percent of all respondents who had volunteered in the past year said they would be willing to volunteer more hours if they felt a nonprofit really "knew" them, as demonstrated by "personalized" giving opportunities, the sharing of relevant updates, and better tracking of their preferences and previous engagements and preferences; and that millennials were more likely to donate through an organization's website (48 percent) or via social media (19 percent) than were Gen Xers (37 percent and 8 percent) or boomers (27 percent and 3).

"The expectations of volunteers and donors are changing — they want more transparency, personalization, and modern forms of communication from their nonprofit organizations," said Allyson Fryhoff, chief customer officer at "There's a clear opportunity for nonprofits to leverage technology to improve the relationships with their donors and volunteers, which ultimately can help them achieve their critical missions."