How to Motivate People to Donate Money

by David Weedmark

Research into the psychology behind charity donations has developed through the years. When planning your next charity drive, it's important to understand what motivates people to donate to charity, such as challenging them to participate or giving them a personal story with which they can connect. If you plan to talk about statistics, you may want to reconsider. Statistics, however well-intentioned they may be, can cut your donations by as much as half.

Keep It Personal

Research has proven that keeping your cause on a personal level when asking for donations motivates people to dig deeper into their wallets. According to University of Warwick charity researcher Chris Olivola, showing someone a picture of a single child in need gets twice the donations than pictures of two children or showing a photo of a child along with statistics about illness or poverty. Instead of talking about milestones, goals, or how many people can be helped by your charity, narrow your narrative to one person to serve as an example.

Aks People to Work

Asking people to volunteer for a marathon, walkathon or perform any type of strenuous activity in addition to donating money seems to work better than asking for money alone. As part of his research, Olivola found that people donated more money if asked to also immerse their hands in ice-cold water, compared to those who were just asked to donate money alone. In 2014, the Kitchnefsky Foundation for Spinal Chord Research challenged volunteers to jump in a cold lake. Not only did this help them raise more money, the videos went viral, further spreading the word about their cause.

Donations Online

Using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus is not only a good way to spread the word to more people than you could alone, but it can also significantly increase the amount of funding you receive. People are more likely to share links to a public cause on Facebook. Forty percent surveyed in 2012 shared such links on Facebook, with only 22 percent doing so on Twitter and Google Plus combined. A 2012 survey by Eventbrite revealed that each time someone shares a charity event link on Facebook, that link gets an average of 14 additional clicks, resulting in an average of $4.15 of increased revenue.

Talk About Donations

The same social influences that affect most decisions also apply to donations. People are more likely to donate if they know others are donating too. If 20, 50 or 100 people have already donated, tell that number to the next person you ask. If your largest single donation was $100, tell people this too. Someone who may have given you $10 may give you $20 or more if he knows you just received a much larger donation from someone else.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

Photo Credits

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