What Motivates Donors?

There’s recently been another wave of research and opinion on donor motivations and hopes.  From what I read, if I were the average donor, I’ll give more when:

  • I know youCampbell & Company and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University released a study noting that when asked in person, donors gave 19% more when compared to being asked by telephone, mail or email.  The average donation was 42% higher in religious organizations.
  • We share values – the same study showed that donors give statistically higher gifts when they perceive they and the beneficiaries held similar values.
  • I can meet people’s basic needs or help them help themselves (if my own income or education is lower) – the Center on Philanthropy also released a different study on motivations for charitable giving.  The study confirmed previous research that people with incomes of less than $100,000 or with a high school education or less were are more responsive to appeals for food, shelter and basic self-sufficiency.
  • I can help make the community or world a better place (if my income or education or higher) – the same study showed wealthier and better educated people are more responsive to broader altruism.
  • The intent of my gift is assuredDr. Frederick Fransen and Dr. Keith Whitaker note in their article in Investments & Wealth Monitor that donors increasingly want long-term controls and assurances placed on large gifts and bequests.
  • Your nonprofit brand is strong – BBMG’s “From Legacy to Leadership” white paper reports that to attract and sustain my loyalty, your nonprofit will need to successfully answer three questions:  “How does this brand improve my life?”, “How does the brand help me make a difference in the world?”, and “How does the brand connect me to a community that shares my values?”

Each of the reports and articles goes more in-depth than these quick bullets.  There’s probably nothing radically new in the information provided.  However, each provides solid evidence and advice as nonprofits think through their 2010 plans for fundraising and communications.