As a fundraiser, I have interacted with different types of donors and prospective donors. Some fundraisers respond positively to requests for funding, others do not. Those who decide to give, do so for numerous reasons and it is difficult to explain all of them. My aim here is to highlight the top 5 reasons why people donate, based on my experience.
Why is it important to know the reason behind the act of giving?
This one is simple. When you know the reason behind why someone offers charity, you can then target them with projects that meet their ‘pain points’. This is similar to the case of a commercial company which needs to know if it is targeting the right consumer segment.
Top five reasons why people donate
The reasons below are not listed on the basis of priority:
1- A sense of responsibility towards society.
Many philanthropists say they support charities to fulfil their duty towards society. This is quite common among corporate donors, which is, in fact, how the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became established.
2- Religious obligations.
Many religious people feel a sense of reward when they support a charitable cause. In some cultures, people make vows in exchange for favours. For instance, a person may pray to God that if he gets a particular job, he would donate a month of his salary to needy people in his neighbourhood.
Furthermore, in certain religions like Islam, it is mandatory for believers to give charity. I covered this topic in my blog post, Fundraising in the Middle East, click HERE to read it.
3- Personal passion.
Of course, if a donor is passionate for a particular cause, he/ she will donate generously. The million dollar question is, what makes them passionate? Here are a few examples:
- Because of you- As I said before in my e-book (6 tips to raise more money), people give because of ‘YOU’!
- Previous experience, e.g., if the donor or one of their family members experienced something similar to the cause
- If they believe in the cause
- Deep knowledge of the cause, e.g., if you present a climate change project to a donor with an environmental scientific background, he/she is more likely to donate due to extensive knowledge on the topic.
A category of donors is interested in charity mainly for publicity. They give because they want to be featured in the media as philanthropists. Such donors would want to be associated with a big NGO brand, e.g., agencies with the United Nations and international non-profit organisations.
5- Ethical and moral reasons.
People sometimes give a donation simply because they think is immoral not to support a compelling cause that they are exposed to. When a friend of mine was asked by a hotel receptionist, during check-in, if he would like to donate to a charity the hotel had a partnership with, he agreed. Later when I commended him for his act, he said he agreed to donate because he felt it was “immoral” not to give when asked! Many would feel the same, especially if the asked gift is considerably small.
To end with, I encourage all fundraisers to understand the reason behind their donors’ decisions. Just remember to ask them why they donated after you receive the donation, and always during a face-to-face meeting. I promise you, your donors will love to talk about this!