5 reasons why people give – and how to ask

September 11, 2018
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While prices are increasing all over the world, salaries have failed to keep up.[1] And yet giving is as popular as ever – particularly in developed economies.

About 55% of American households[2] say they give to charity, while 61% of UK citizens donated £9.7 billion[3] in 2016. Which should make us stop and think – why do people donate, through good times and bad? And how should charities and their fundraising supporters frame their appeals to tap into that psychology?

We’re not the first to try and get into donors’ heads about this, so we looked at various studies, many of which point to the five reasons listed below for giving.

On the whole, they seem to fall into two categories – firstly, a personal connection with the non-profit, its campaign, or charity in general (natural generosity, a wish to make a difference, an impulse, or trust in a specific charity). And secondly, an external trigger (something the fundraiser can control). The two work best together and can be played around with in various combinations.

Interesting? For sure! But above all, this little list contains very important lessons for us all.

Somebody asked – external stimulus

Unless somebody asks, few people will whip out their credit card or fire up their Internet banking for nothing but a nice warm feeling.[4] So as a charity or fundraising supporter, you have to ask (and keep asking) to get those donations. Also, ask in different places – use all your personal, professional and media networks, and work all the messaging and social platforms that you can.

And still it doesn’t stop there. Next, you have to establish a personal connection with as many donors as possible. Perhaps your target donor has a liking for the charity, or they would support their friend who fundraises for that charity. Perhaps their company is doing a fundraiser, and there’s peer pressure. Perhaps their life path has crossed with the work the charity is doing. Identify which buttons to push more than others in a given situation, and do so gently and respectfully in your various requests.

They feel close to the cause – internal affinity

Find and speak to people who feel a specific connection with your pet foster care charity, disease research institute or immigration support centre.[5] Once you find the right audience and platform to post to/advertise on, it’s worth spending more time and other resources on that segment, as you may well get more reward for your trouble.

However, if your budget requires you to look more widely, do so. Put effort into writing out the need that your charity addresses, and you’ll have a better chance to persuade donors who haven’t considered that need or come across it before. Then, as above, ask – and frequently.

They trust in charity to have an impact – internal conviction

Most people who believe in charity trust that their donation will be put to work to help someone or something.[6]

So give them a reason to believe. Make it clear they can trust[7] the charity that they’re asked to support to get the job done (list past successes).

They care – internal inclination

When asked, most donors will say altruism – a concern for others[8] – moves them to donate. That being so, you could achieve a lot by simply preaching to the choir.

But how do you deal with donor fatigue when you’re forced to make repeated appeals? How do you overcome bad press dogging the non-profit industry?[9] Only by a combination of factors. Spread the net wide to increase your donor audience. Ask frequently. Tell a persuasive story that instils trust. Make it easy to donate.

Someone else is doing it – external stimulus

Many donors give because someone they know and care about is doing it. For example, many married couples[10] make charitable donation decisions together, and peer pressure often comes into play in group/social fundraising situations.

Using the social factor, charities can greatly increase their donations by partnering with group entities like sports events or corporate partners. Ask your partner to get their participants or employees to fundraise together for your charity. The fear of missing out and social pressure inherent in such situations will do a lot for your numbers!

GivenGain makes it easy for individuals, companies, sports events, clubs and other groups to fundraise together. So ask your corporate or event partner to sign up on GivenGain and start a budget-boosting fundraiser for you. If you still need to sign up your charity to GivenGain, doing so is easy and free for the first campaign!

[1] https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2018/06/30/the-rich-world-needs-higher-real-wage-growth

[2] http://generosityforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Overall-Giving-10.5.17-jb-CJC.pdf

[3] https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf-uk-giving-web.pdf

[4] https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-donate-to-charity/answer/Paul-Prins

[5] https://www.cafonline.org/my-personal-giving/long-term-giving/resource-centre/why-do-people-give

[6] https://pitchergroup.com/2012/six-reasons-donors-give-away-their-money/

[7] https://theconversation.com/5-reasons-why-people-give-their-money-away-plus-1-why-they-dont-87801

[8] https://www.cafonline.org/my-personal-giving/long-term-giving/resource-centre/why-do-people-give

[9] https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf-uk-giving-web.pdf

[10] https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/bitstream/handle/1805/6337/women_give_2010_report.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y