- Fri, April 20 2012
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
The philanthropic psychologist Jen Shang has a new fundraising study out with the public radio station WFIU in Bloomington, and it shows that five words tied to moral qualities prompt higher giving levels.
Here’s how the study worked. During the station’s pledge drive, the people answering phones thanked people for calling and randomly picked two of five words associated with moral identity to describe the caller: caring, friendly, kind, compassionate and helpful. For example: People said, “Thanks for calling and becoming a kind and caring WFIU donor” right before they asked the amount the caller wanted to give. Female donors gave significantly more—21% more—when they heard those adjectives. Interestingly, with male donors, it made no difference.
I think most best practices are not gender specific, like telling a compelling story, making your cause relatable or appealing to emotion. But moral identity is apparently another matter.
According to Shang, most charities find their donors are two-thirds female, so the implications are the technique could increasing the gift sizes of two-thirds of donors. She is now testing this effect in direct mail, and she said in a Chronicle of Philanthropy interview that she believes she will obtain the same result.
The researchers also surveyed donors and found the more that women give, the smaller the gap between their ideal and actual moral identity. In other words, donating money helps them achieve their moral ideals, said Shang. Doing good feels good.
Shang believes the results of this study are reliable and transferable to other causes, so this may be worth testing in your nonprofit’s marketing and fundraising outreach.