Consumerism is at the heart of American society. Americans seem to have an insatiable desire to purchase more stuff. From Amazon to Walmart and thousands of stores in between, our culture spends, spends, and spends some more. The result is often massive debt, limited saving/investing, and financial instability.
But to paint Americans with this broad brushstroke and call it complete would be inappropriate and shortsighted. For as much as Americans love to consume and spend, they also enjoy giving their money to charities, fundraising causes, and nonprofit organizations.
The question is, why?
5 Reasons People Give Their Money Away
Research shows that Americans gave $410.02 billion in 2017 (which was a 5.2 percent increase from 2016). And while corporations give their fair share, the majority of giving comes from individuals. In 2017, $286.65 billion – or 70 percent of total giving – came from single donors.For charitable organizations and nonprofits, the key to successful fundraising isn’t getting connected with the right businesses and corporate partners. While this can be an important piece to the puzzle, it’s far more important to reach individuals who can collectively pool greater resources. And in order to do this, you need to know why people give, so you can engage them in the right ways. Let’s explore some of the top reasons:
1. Sense of Morality
There’s a huge sense of morality and ethics that drives charitable giving and motivates people to give their time and money. Somewhere deep down, everyone has a certain level of conviction that they should be helping others – and this cuts through all socioeconomic boundaries and layers. The rich, middle-class, and poor all give on a proportionate basis. The only explanation is that they feel convicted to follow an internal sense of morality and ethics. Without these personal convictions, giving doesn’t really make much practical sense.
2.Cause Hits Close to Home
According to InMyArea.com, “People will often donate to a cause that hits close to home. Whether you have a family member with autism, a friend who has passed away as a result of cancer, or you’re a dog lover, personal experiences can influence where you decide to donate.”This factor shouldn’t be underestimated. Personal experience makes a cause or charitable organization feel much more real. Recognizing this, coalescing fundraising efforts around personal stories, testimonials, and tangible societal impact can provide a jolt to any campaign.
A large percentage of individual contributions are to religious organizations. These include churches, synagogues, faith-based organizations, and religious non-profits.“People who are religiously affiliated are more likely to make a charitable donation of any kind, whether to a religious congregation or to another type of charitable organization,” Giving USA explains. “Sixty-two percent of religious households give to charity of any kind, compared with 46 percent of households with no religious affiliation.”Religious conviction is never something that should be preyed upon, but it is something that can be leveraged in situations where it’s appropriate. If your organization has religious convictions or undertones, expounding upon these may generate traction with your donor base.
4. Social Influence
People often give out of social influence – and this works in a couple of directions.Some people are influenced by how friends, neighbors, and loved ones give, so they give as well. In this sense, they’re influenced by their peers to be more generous with their money. Other people give for their own selfish benefit, knowing that along with large donations comes a certain degree of power and influence.
Let’s not pretend like every dollar given to charitable organizations and nonprofits is the direct result of a moral or religious conviction. In many situations, it’s all about receiving a tax break and gaining financial leverage.Being able to differentiate between which people are giving out of personal conviction and which are giving out financial planning will help you tailor your message to each individual donor.
Appealing to the Donor
Successful fundraising is all about appealing to donors in a genuine manner that connects their hearts and minds to the cause at hand. Because where the heart goes, the checkbook will follow. As you explore new strategies for enhancing your fundraising efforts, consider some of the motivating factors at hand and how you can leverage them to the donor’s good and your benefit.