Why People Give
What will motivate people to give to my fundraising campaign? This is a question you should be prepared to answer in an instant. It’s a question that demands a ready defense, a solid apologetic. And it’s a question you should ask yourself every time you review a fundraising strategy or creative solution.
A few weeks ago, I sat down and reviewed some of the direct-mail appeal packages I had received in my home mailbox. It was quite a mixture of fundraising offers — appeals for political and public policy, humanitarian and social services, religious and cultural causes.
Some of the appeals completely missed their target; I wasn’t interested in or concerned about their issues or needs. These appeals flew directly into the trash bin.
Other packages captured my attention. These packages were from social enterprises I supported or had interest in. I opened them and read what they had to say; I mailed a gift to several of the organizations.
What caused me to respond to these fundraising appeals? The answer is found in a simple list of six essential motivators of donor behavior. Target these motivators, and your fundraising will soar. Every donor is prompted to give because of one or more of these factors. (Credit for this list goes to the creative experts I have relied on and learned from over the years, including Bob Ball, Jeff Brooks and Herschell Gordon Lewis.)
Six essential motivators of donor behavior
Here’s the list in alphabetical order, followed by a few comments on the most important ones. Don’t get hung up on the words used to describe the motivation. Get past that and focus on the underlying motivation.
1) Anger. This is an extremely strong motivator. People tend to act when they are angry, especially if their anger is based on moral outrage or righteous indignation at injustice or evil.