Think about the last time you gave to an organization, specifically one you haven’t given to before. How did you find out about that organization, and what made you decide to give? There is a good chance you heard about the organization from a friend or family member who asked you to give.

I recently heard more detailed results of the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s Generosity Survey. This survey is done every two or three years and it explores the generosity and giving habits of donors in Colorado. A few of the data points stuck out to me because they really demonstrate that giving is a social activity. Here they are:

60% of donors said “I tell my friends and family about the causes I support.”

49% learned about an organization from family or friends before making their first donation.

56% made a donation as a result of an ask from family or friends (compared to only 25% when asked by someone they did not know).

30% donated based on an email from someone they knew.

Wow. These are actual numbers to show how much a personal relationship can improve your chances of successfully securing a donation. People in Colorado who feel great about making donations to charity are likely to share information about that organization with their family and friends.

How can you use this information to help your organization? First, share this with your board members and volunteers. They are already champions of your organization, and they should know how much telling others about the cause they support could influence family and friends to make a gift. Second, track new donations and make your best effort to find out if the gift was made as a result of someone close to your organization, then be sure to thank that person as well as the new donor. Finally, when asking your board members and volunteers to invite family or friends to make a gift or attend an event, make sure they know that a personal conversation is more likely to be successful than an email.

When we actively ask our supporters to talk with their family and friends, and then we make sure they feel appreciated for doing so, we can make sure our list of donors is always growing longer and take full advantage of the social aspect of giving.