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Dec 18, 2018Donors

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What Motivates Donors to Give?

Stanford researcher Jamil Zaki says that kindness is like “psychological chocolate.” It makes us feel good. Generosity has even been known to produce happiness hormones like dopamine. 

In the U.S., the largest giving (72%) comes from individuals. That is almost $300 billion! It does not come from corporations like many of us might think. Corporations account for 5% of charitable contributions.

Not surprising, 30% of annual giving occurs in December.

10% of annual giving comes in the last three days of December.

It is that time of year when generosity overflows.

A friend was sharing with me why he was giving to a particular charity. He said when he opened his mail, he saw the photos of how the organization uses its resources to help those in need. The photograph resonated with him. It pulled at his heartstring and reminded him of why he has supported the organization. He reached for his checkbook.

Donors give because they want to make a difference.

Sharing starts in our childhood. A study in British Columbia revealed that toddlers who gave away a treat showed happier expressions than when they received a treat. It is true that children of parents who discuss giving with them are 20% more likely to be philanthropic. Parents are role models for their children in so many ways.

Here are four main reasons we are motivated to give to charities:

1.   We want to make a difference

We find it important to help others in need. We want to make a difference and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

2.   We have built trust

We believe in the organization and trust that the funds will make a difference. We support a winning organization and have witnessed the impact. Being a part of a group with shared values is important. 

3.   We are asked

We find that our donation matters to someone we know. We know someone has suffered from that disease, tornado, or situation. We want to help our friends and community. We are asked.

We may think that a top reason people give to charity is that of a tax break. We in fundraising believe that the changes in the tax law will not decrease giving to charities. I believe that the top three reasons people give will outshine any tax break motivation. 

Many people do not give because they feel they cannot afford it. Just like every vote counts, every dollar counts.

Here are four considerations for year-end giving:

1.   Make a meaningful gift

Make a stretch gift, one that makes you feel proud with the amount you give.

2.   Speak with your pocketbook

Volunteering is a tremendous way to be engaged and give back. On top of volunteering, making a financial contribution means you are fully committed to the cause.

3.   Let the charity know that you believe in their work

Nonprofits work tirelessly for a much smaller salary than the corporate world. Let staff know how much you appreciate their work dedication in making a difference.

4.   Make a 3-year pledge

Making a multi-year pledge allows nonprofits to plan beyond 12 months. Nonprofits want to be more strategic and visionary in their planning but are stifled when funding is received only year-to-year.

We give because we want to help others. Where are you directing your charity dollars?

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising guide. She provides overwhelmed nonprofit leaders with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].

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