Columbus Symphony Orchestra

Survey Results: Donate? Or Not? – Part I

Mahler’s “Resurrection” – Mozart’s Requiem

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 – Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring

All are wonderful pieces of music – classics, even – with any one of them being able to generate enough excitement (sometimes riotous) to make even the most stoic of people smile!  They’re all filled with such emotion or better yet, with such passion, that they will immediately instill a love of classical music in even the newest of listeners.

OK – Rite of Spring may not be QUITE as immediate, but give it a chance.  It’ll grow on you!

Now imagine a Friday night for the first-time concert-goer.  He sits down and is absolutely blown away by an amazing symphonic and choral performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony “Resurrection”.  He can’t believe how good it was and he walks out with a fair amount of incredulity at how much he liked it.  The concert is over, so it’s about 1030 / 11 o’clock at night when he gets home.  He thinks that since the symphony was so good, he’ll check out the schedule and perhaps go to another concert in the new year.

He turns on his computer and pulls up the website.  In the new year, he sees some Mozart – his requiem.  Cool.  Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham were really good in the movie Amadeus.  And according to Falco, Amadeus rocks!  Ahem.

He turns on Letterman and decides to also pitch in $20 to help his new favorite arts organization.  Why not?  They were really good and twenty bucks is doable.  Besides, he’s sure it’ll add up as a lot of people probably do the same thing he’s about to do, right?  So he clicks on the Donate button with the idea of making a quick donation during the monologue.  Individual donations, OK. Good.

“Online donations can be made with an account and password”.  “If you don’t have an account and password, call “this number.”  Wait – I have to call to set up an account?  Forget that!  Oh wait – “Online donations” has a link, so maybe that’ll work.  It’s probably just their way of adding names to an Email distribution list.  No problem.  Click.

A form appears asking for name, Email and password.  It’s on a different site, no longer the orchestra’s website, but for Ticketmaster.  Hesitating at first, he fills it out.  OK.  Done.  Continue button. Click.

“Your account has been created.  Thank you for signing up.”

Ok.  “Great, but I was going to give you money, remember?”  Back – back – back.  Back again.

(since the original writing of this post, account creation now takes a donor to the front page of the donation process so they can continue rather than having to find their own way back)

Log in – OK, enter Email and password.  Continue. Click.

Top of Ticketmaster screen reads “Your invoice – you have no outstanding balance.”  Obviously.  “Like Ticketmaster is ever going to give me anything that isn’t paid in full up front.  Oh – there it is.  In the lower left hand side, it says ‘donate now’.”  Not sure to which organization he’s now donating, but he clicks on it.  Nothing will happen until credit card info is entered anyway.  Click.  Letterman’s monologue is almost over.

CAPA online donation?  OK – Columbus Symphony logo is at the top, along with a handful of other organizations.  OK – Drop down menu: “Who’s the donation for?”  Bad grammar, but OK.  “Myself?  The only choice is ‘Myself?’”  Odd.  “I’m not donating to myself.  I’m donating to the Symphony.”  Oh – again on the lower left hand side.  Donor Summary: Member level $0.00, upgrade to next level $1.00.  Below that $0.00 and a button to “add to cart.”  “Shouldn’t there be a button which increases it beyond $1?”

Hmm.

Further down on the left hand side: Select Organization.  “OK – now we’re talking.”  CAPA is listed first and is the default.  Then CATCO Phoenix Donation.  “Is that like the University of Phoenix?”  Ahh…next one is Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  About time.  Click.  Page refreshes.

OK – still missing a field in which he can enter an amount.  “Wow.  They must not need my money.”  Commercial break – missed the monologue.  OK – he can remain anonymous, but he can’t actually donate.  Seriously?

“Heck with that.”  He goes to Facebook and posts that he attended a great concert tonight, but they don’t take donations.

And that’s just one $20 donation lost.

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I’ll give it a go

Back in May, I decided to make a donation to my favorite (and local) symphony – the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  It’s a fantastic ensemble and if you haven’t already, you should make a trip to Columbus to hear them play.

I couldn’t do it.

Why?  Because apparently my Email address is on file somewhere and a password that I’d normally use in this type of setting was not accepted thus locking me out after only one single attempt.  It was after work for me and since I work a mid-shift, that means it was after 8pm.  My option to reset my password was this:  Call the CAPA customer service desk.  “No online option? You’re kidding, right?. Really?!”  OK, fine – so I called.

I got their voice mail.  Their business hours are 9am – 5pm Eastern.  So unless I make a personal call from work to fix my password, I can’t make an online donation to the CSO.

And that’s a REAL donation lost.

(since the original writing of this post, donors now have the ability to reset their passwords online themselves and have a new, temporary password sent to their Email, but why is all that needed just to give the CSO some money?)

Preferred methods

Last month in my survey, I asked how people like to donate to charitable organizations.  I learned that we do indeed have a lot of good people here in Columbus and the biggest chunk of them, 45%, prefer to donate online using a credit card.

Question 6: When donating to a charitable organization (e.g. Mid Ohio Food Bank, United Way, Red Cross, etc.), how do you typically make donations?
Online with a credit card 80 45%
In person using cash (donation box, etc.) 38 21%
Mailing a check 38 21%
Other Option 21 12%

About 21% of all respondents like to donate in person with cash and 21% still prefer to mail in a check.  “Other Option” turned out some great responses, too.  Several people make donations via payroll deductions.   Some prefer to donate via their churches or other religious institutions.  Others prefer to donate in-kind items such as food, clothing or even blood or platelets.  Still others prefer to give more of themselves by donating their time.

Great responses.  Great people.

Next, I asked if they had ever donated to area arts organizations.  Here’s what they said: No.

Question 7: Have you ever donated to any Columbus area musical ensembles? If so, which ones? (Check all that apply)
I have not donated to any Columbus-area musical ensembles 121 68%
Columbus Symphony Orchestra 36 20%
Other Option 17 10%
Ballet Met 11 6%
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra 8 5%
Opera Columbus 6 3%
New Albany Symphony Orchestra 2 1%

Over 2/3 of them, 68%, said no.  20% had donated to the CSO (remember the musicians, their friends and CSO booth visitors who filled out the survey?) and “Other Option” showed donations to other music ensembles in Columbus – Gay Men’s Chorus, Columbus Jazz Band, OSU Music ensembles, K-12 music ensembles, etc.  My limit of 10 questions prevented a follow-up question of “Why?” or “What would make you consider donating?” to whose who said they hadn’t donated, so in all honesty, who knows?  Speaking for myself, I didn’t donate to one organization because it blocked me from doing so.  Others I asked to try to donate – including at least one CSO musician – gave up halfway through the process of donating to that same organization because it was so cumbersome – and annoying.

People make donations and nearly half make them with credit cards. Why are they not donating?  Do they not know there’s a need?  Possibly.  Do they not know of online possibilities?  Also possible, but I doubt it.  Online is usually the first place they will look if someone else isn’t holding out a bucket or boot at an intersection.  In this day and age, people are very picky about where they donate – as they should be.  Some of that is based on a limited supply of disposable income which means the process needs to be quick and simple when they do decide to donate.  Sounds weird, but in a world where everything is instant, moods and opinions can change at the drop of a hat and we know patience is all but gone.  So why are people not donating?  Possibly because they don’t have the patience to set up an account and then flip through another 10-15 additional screens to do so.

Giving your money away should not be nearly as difficult as the initial effort you put forth to earn it!

Non-profit organizations rely on donations in order to stay in business. They rely on the generosity of donors, such as my hypothetical first-time concert-goer.

And me.

Tomorrow Part II – step by step instructions for the online donation process

 – – This is part I of III.  – Part I – Part II – Part III

6 thoughts on “Survey Results: Donate? Or Not? – Part I

  1. Thank you for your blog, and for this particular post. I had no idea it was so difficult to donate to the CSO. Hopefully someone will see it who can do something about it.

    • My pleasure – thanks for reading this!

      Tomorrow, I’ll walk folks through the online process – good examples and the not-so-great examples and then on Thursday, I want to throw out my “I”m not a business expert, but I do often donate online” suggestions for improvement. The CSO has already improved the process a little bit, so they’re going in the right direction. I also think that with a little bit of tweaking, it can be greatly improved and simplified. It’s tough, working within the Ticketmaster system that is meant for selling tickets, not accepting donations. It’s a challenge, for sure, but it can work. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for the reply. Another thought- I wonder if the CSO knows how easy (and free!) it is to donate using Paypal?

    • I’m not sure – that’s actually something I plan to throw out as a possibility simply for the pure ease of use. I’ve used it before with non profit orgs (albeit smaller ones) and I also use it when I sell my knitting patterns as Itinerant Knitter. That said, it’s not 100% free because there is a small fee for accepting credit cards – as there is for every business. Usually .25 or.35 cents plus 1-2-3%, depending on which card is used – Visa, MC, Amex, etc. But you’re absolutely right – it’s ridiculously easy to use.

  3. Pingback: Take My Money, Please | Adaptistration

  4. Pingback: Survey Results – Donate? – Part II | Giocosity

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