- The #1 consideration for donors is if an NPO works in a cause area that the donor cares about
- Indeed, only a small minority of donors say that the most important consideration is if an NPO is “better than other organizations at addressing social issues”
- The majority of donors do not do any research on nonprofits before they give
However, that does not tell the full story. Our results also show that donors have a bit of a rational side to them:
- While a majority of donors do not conduct research before they give, we find that 19% research many of the NPOs before they donate, and another 29% research occasionally
- Donors have an unmet need for more information on NPO effectiveness. They want to know the impact their hard-earned dollars are having on the causes they support
- While donors are generally unaware of third-party portals that provide information or evaluate NPOs, they show great interest in the idea of these types of resources when introduced to them
These findings tell us that many donors straddle the fence when making charitable contributions, with a foot is both the “emotional” and “rational” camps. While the softer side certainly “rules”, we find that many donors are indeed looking at more information to inform their donations, and even those that do not research still care about the impact that the organizations to whom they donate are having.
Unfortunately, when we look at the world of fundraising “tips” for NPOs, we see plenty that only address one or the other of these sides.
Tips in the emotional camp rely on marketing, psychology, and behavioral economics to help NPOs become better fundraisers through a donor’s heart. Tips here might suggest the use of particular images to have the greatest effect (“pictures of babies increase response rates in appeals!”) These tips do nothing to help nonprofits communicate meaningful information on their impact.
In the other camp we see the promotion more and better information, usually to help a nonprofit understand its impact but without regard to the effect on donors. While donors want to understand the impact of an organization they don’t want to be bombarded with data, and trying to “force” donors to consume more information can indeed backfire when it comes to raising funds.
Our goal was to look at the intersection of these two sides. What tactics should we employ from the perspectives of emotion and rationality that will be of greatest value to donors and the NPOs they support?
We have taken our research findings and combined them with our fundraising insights to identify the best recommendations for NPOs that combine emotion and rationality. Our ten specific and actionable tips will help NPOs better engage with their current and prospective donors. We’ve shared these findings for free in our new guidebook, More Money for More Good. Use this new resource to better understand, improve, and relate your NPO’s effectiveness and impact. View and download our guidebook for free to learn more today!
Greg Ulrich is director of advisory services at Hope Consulting. Greg’s industry experience includes the nonprofit sector, clean energy, healthcare, financial services, and industrial manufacturing. Greg also has extensive customer research experience, including surveying thousands of customers to understand opportunities to improve a leading healthcare company’s products and services.