Stop Scolding Nonprofit Donors to Make Unrestricted Gifts, Especially Now
|You think I’d prefer peanuts?|
It’s often said that people give to people. So true. And people are funny. Our behavior is ruled by emotions much more than logic (remember the difference between irrational humans and logical Vulcans on Star Trek?). With most of us, hope springs eternal. We seek a brighter future. A better tomorrow. A final frontier.
What does this mean for fundraising?
One of my favorite bloggers, Katya Andreson, recently shared A fundraising tip: Choose hope over hopeless. It’s a great reminder that people don’t always behave as you might intuitively believe they would. Which is why fundraising is part art and part science (much like latte- making).
· When asked if they’d save 4,500 lives in a refugee camp with 11,000 people, they gave more generously than when they thought the camp had 100,000 people. Why? The perceived relative impact was bigger.
· When asked if they’d give $10 million to save 50% of the 20,000 people killed annually by a disease, they chose this option rather than giving the same $10 million to save 20,000 people from a disease that killed 290,000 lives a year. Again, they’d rather not lose 50% than save more people (i.e, save a lower percentage).
We hate losing things more than we like gaining them. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman is famous for loss aversion experiments that demonstrate how much people’s economic behavior is guided by a change of reference point. For example, if forced to choose between being given $500 for certain or a 50% chance of winning $1,000, most of us will opt for the sure thing. But if the choice is between losing $500 for sure or a 50% chance of losing $1,000, most of us will take the gamble.
When we suggest to people that they give something up in order to do good, they have a lot of difficulty doing so. We aren’t motivated by thinking about how things could be worse. We’re motivated by thinking about how things can be better.
|Things I love: My latte and saving the world|
So, while it’s tempting to suggest to folks that they give up their latte* for a month (how easy is that?!), it’s not the most effective strategy. Folks don’t want to give up their latte. And it’s a puny amount. It’s peanuts. What’s inspiring about what they could do with this anyway? Ask them, however, if they’d like to save a life, feed a family, right a wrong, rescue a dog or plant a grove of trees this month? Now you’re talking!