What Motivates Donors to Give?

Aug 15, 2019Donors

What-Motivates-Donors-to-Give Donors

What motivates donors to give is not surprising. Donors give because they want to make a difference and it feels good.

In fact, 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. according to Giving USA 2019, the largest giving (68%) comes from individuals. That is almost $300 billion! Moreover, 77% represents the total giving from both individuals and bequests.

While corporate giving was up in 2018, the majority of giving does not come from corporations like many of us might think.

Needless to say, the majority of your time should be spent focused on building your relationships with individual donors.

What Motivates Donors to Give: A Simple Photo

A friend was sharing with me why she was giving to a particular charity. She said when she opened her mail, she saw the photos of how the organization uses its resources to help those in need. Thus, the photograph resonated with her. It pulled at her heartstring and reminded her of why she has been involved and supporting the organization for years. Hence, she reached for her checkbook. Know why your donors give!


What Motivates Donors to Give Starts in Childhood.

A study in British Columbia revealed that toddlers who gave away a treat showed happier expressions than when they received a treat. It's 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.

What Motivates Donors to Give to Charities:

1.  People want to make a difference

First of all, people find it important to help others in need. In fact, people want to make a difference and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And being a part of a group with shared values is important. 

2.  People Give Based on Passion

Above all, don’t approach an individual for a gift just because they are wealthy. Ask your board to help you identify people in the community who they believe would support your mission. Then develop a prospect list. With intention, get to know the donors on your prospect list. Here’s the criterial to identify your ideal major donors.

Certainly, people believe in your organization and trust that the funds will make a difference. Donors support a winning organization in which they have witnessed the impact. 

By all means, know your donors' passions.

3.  People are asked to give

Most important, people give because they are asked. You have engaged with your prospect, and they are expecting you to ask them for their support. They would be disappointed if you did not give them an opportunity to make a difference.

In other words, people understand that their donation matters.  

People give because they want to make a difference, are passionate about the cause, have build trust with your organization, and are asked. In summary, get to know your donors better and build a relationship based on trust.

Blog Updated: Aug 16, 2019

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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