Knowing the why behind the gift

Getting people to donate to your nonprofit stimulates growth and helps ensure your efforts move in the right direction. One way you can increase the number of individuals who give to your cause is by understanding why people decide to give in the first place. This can help your operation decide how to advertise, market and communicate your unique needs to benefactors.

The science behind 'feeling good' about giving
In many instances, helping out makes donors feel better about themselves. The Nonprofit Hub noted that our bodies actually release a chemical called dopamine when we do something good. This contributes to the positive energy we feel after doing something kind. 

Know what motivates giving
Having a more concrete idea of why someone wants to give can help you understand your donors better. In a study conducted by the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University titled "Understanding Donors' Motivations," researchers studied the most popular factors that drove individuals to give gifts to charities.

The study revealed that the top reasons behind giving gifts to nonprofits are:

  • To provide basic human needs for the poor
  • To help the impoverished help themselves
  • To improve the community
  • To ensure equity
  • To make the world a better place
  • To embrace diversity and inspire "ties across the community"

Educational level and income differences among donation motivators
Interestingly, the ranking of these motivating factors depends on elements like education and income. For example, donors who reported an income greater than $100,000 per year were less likely to indicate helping the poor gain access to basic needs or providing them with opportunities to help themselves as a reason to donate.

Donors with lower incomes - annual salaries less than $50,000 - decided that providing for the poor and helping them gain access to resource that can help them grow and develop further are the dominate motivators behind their giving.

In addition, those who have a high school education or less are motivated to give to help provide basic needs in 49 percent of the responses, and 43 percent of the time, this demographic was invested in helping the poor help themselves. Those with some college education were substantially less likely to give for these aforementioned reasons.

While those with higher salaries and education were less likely to give to charities in an effort to provide for the poor than low-income and less-educated donors, they were more likely to give to improve their communities and to ensure equity for everyone.

Adopting a campaign to cater to motivators
By knowing why certain demographics give, you can tailor your outreach and elevator speeches to their wants. For example, if your charity works to provide meals for the homeless, you may emphasize the importance of providing a basic human need for those who are poor if you are speaking with someone who has a lower income. However, if you approach someone with a higher income, you can tweak your speech to accommodate their motivations. Instead of pitching donating as supplying basic needs, consider describing how your food program improves the community and develops relationships with those who your nonprofit serves.

Back to News