- Thu, March 03 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
It’s the question we all really, really want to answer: Why do people give, and how do we get them to give more?
Okay, so maybe that’s two questions, but if you’re a fundraiser, the reason you ask the first question is you absolutely must answer the second. It’s your job.
I’ve spent much of the past two months blogging about these questions as I chronicled research from 30 different PhDs in the The Science of Giving.
I think there are six truths that kept coming up, again and again, in my reading.
1. Giving is mostly emotional and irrational.The right brain tends to rule the left in giving, and people donate out of feeling more than thinking. In fact, if you get people to stop and think, they tend to give less.
2. Giving is personal.The closer we feel to a cause or the person advocating that cause, the more likely we are to give. We give more when we feel we’re helping another person to whom we can relate – or when a cause is made so highly tangible we’re sure we have the chance to make a real difference.
3. It’s really hard to change #1 or #2.If your job is to raise money, just roll with these truths. As researcher Daniel Oppenheimer told me: “Crafting solicitations that appeal to human psychology can feel manipulative at times, which is why it’s important to remember people really do want to give. They like giving; it makes them happy; it provides meaning. When we help people give, we’re not just assisting charities and the causes that receive the money—we’re also helping the donors.”
4. Giving makes people happy.
Researcher Michal Ann Strahilevitz puts it this way: “Most fundraisers probably don’t think of themselves in the business of selling happiness to donors, but that is ... their job.” Giving makes you happy, and when you’re happy you give more, which makes you happier, which makes you give more.
5. Giving is a social act.
Since we’re all social creatures who are well-versed in peer pressure, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our giving is heavily influenced by what we perceive other people to be donating. We’re all about keeping up with the Joneses even when it comes to philanthropy.
6. These are sweeping generalizations. Test for yourself!