What Motivates Giving?

by Jason Dick · 4 comments

Why do donors give money?  What makes their gifts increase?  Donors give for a wide variety of reasons.  Some give because they are passionate about a cause or an issue, others give because they want to do good in their community, many because they feel like they should, some give because they were taught, others because they believe they should, and some out of self interest.

First time giving.  Many things draw a donor to give a gift for the first time.  Sometimes it is a new campaign that is specific to their interests, they came into new money, or a friend personally asked them.  Getting someone in the door for many non-profits is the hardest part.  The first gift will come either out of a compassion for the cause or because they have found a new connection to it.  What have you found motivates a first time gift?

Renewed giving.  Donor loyalty is all about relationship and interest.  Gifts will continue to come if donors are properly stewarded and solicited (with exceptions of course).  Make sure that your donors are a part of a regular program, that you are bringing them into tour the facility, talking with them about the organization, and sending them newsletters and such.  If you take time to build the relationship a donor will usually keep giving and sometimes upgrade their gift.

Upgrading giving.  This is the area everyone always wants to talk about, but this conversation cannot begin if you do not know how to renew a donor.  You need to have a regular cultivation processes in place to even begin to talk about upgrading your donors. It is something like three times as expensive to secure a new donor than it is to keep an existing one.

What is it that motivates a larger gift is it volunteerism, relationship, solicitation, donor research?  What do you think?  I think that donors upgrade their gift based on an understanding that the organization needs it and can use it better than it was used before.  This looks like explaining what a larger gift means in terms of persons helped, in terms of new services provided or old services improved.  Donors want to know that the upgraded gift is actually making a difference to improve the organization.  When a donor is already invested in your organization you can no longer use compassion as an appeal for more money.  You need to know that your volunteers, monthly donors, long-term major givers already have a strong compassion for your cause.  These people want to know what more of their money will mean for the non-profit.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison February 13, 2008 at 1:56 pm

That’s a great analysis of donor motivations. I addressed a similar topic last week on the GlobalGiving blog: http://blog.globalgiving.com/2008/02/07/is-your-relationship-with-your-charity-going-nowhere-fast/

Donor experience is definitely a big motivator in choosing to donote again or increase a donation. A sense of accomplishment accompanies this – if the donor feels like the problem is endless, they’re likely to get discouraged. But since these are people who are willingly choosing to part with their money, it’s important to remain relevant in their lives – and that can be started by creating an experience to which they WANT to return.

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J. Erik Potter February 14, 2008 at 1:37 pm

It all comes down to the relationship. Consistent donors may believe in your mission. But to move into the larger gifts, we need to match them up with a program or service that speaks to them. Start a dialogue and ask them what else your organization could be offering. It empowers them to shape not only the gift but the entire way the gift will be used and its expected outcomes. Most people don’t want to just give money. They want to make a difference. Money is just a means to that end. Empower them to make a difference.

One addition to your first time donor list – lets not forget the power of a significant life event. An aunt with a niece recently diagnosed with diabetes could immediately become a new donor for research and support organizations. You never know when these life events are going to occur so its important to keep your message out there on a consistent basis. That’s where the power of social media can put one organization over another one.

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Christopher Scott February 19, 2008 at 10:15 pm

Thanks for hosting this months Giving Carnival.

I will be sending over my submission soon. . .

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