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Case Study Donor Participation Project Resources

The Data on Engagement and Giving: The “X Factor”

Engaged donors give more. That’s the key insight from new research on the connection between engagement and giving.

According to data from surveys of nearly 10,000 donors performed by Louis Diez and Ron Cohen, those who feel highly engaged with an organization—defined as meeting with people related to and feeling valued by the organization frequently—give at significantly higher levels. In fact, the most engaged donors give at up to 5 times the rate of donors overall.

Call it the “X factor.”

For organizations focused on fundraising, engagement with donors and constituents dramatically multiplies giving over time. Donor engagement is the X factor that significantly boosts giving from key donor groups:

  • Gifts under $1,000: Highly engaged donors gave at 1.2 times the rate of all donors.
  • Gifts $2,500-$9,999: Highly engaged donors gave at 2 times the rate of all donors.
  • Gifts $10,000-$24,999: Highly engaged donors gave at 3 times the rate of all donors.
  • Gifts $25,000-$49,999: Highly engaged donors gave at 4 times the rate of all donors.
  • Gifts $50,000 and up: Highly engaged donors gave at 5 times the rate of all donors.

The more an organization can cultivate engagement, the more it will see giving increase over time, especially among mid-level and major donors.

The key is focusing on the three elements of trust that drive engagement: credibility, reliability, and intimacy.

This means communicating transparently and consistently, following through on promises, and personalizing interactions. Donors who trust an organization, talk about it, and feel valued will become partners in its mission.

For fundraising programs seeking sustainable growth, investment in donor engagement will yield significant dividends.

While tactics like increasing call volumes or events may boost short-term dollars, engagement builds lifetime value and transforms donors into advocates and ambassadors. For long-term funding, engagement is the strategic “X factor” that multiplies giving across the donor pyramid.

Nonprofits that make engagement a priority will thrive. Those that don’t risk being left behind.


Get the full recording for this Donor Participation Project session in our resource library!

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