There is a science to "why people give" and there is an art to "convincing them to do it." Mainstream marketers sell a product or service by identifying a need within a target market, making a product to fill that need - then effectively communicating how their product or service will fill that need. In the world of nonprofit marketing, we are selling ideas and feelings about the potential impact. Nonprofit marketing, in contrast to selling shoes, is selling the idea that there is an urgent problem and then convincing a potential donor that their contribution will positively impact that problem. By the way, doing this whilst competing amongst the millions of other equally worthy nonprofits.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the U.S. They are filling needs for everything from toothbrushes to heart transplants. This also includes those nonprofits that are selling "an idea of something" like an investment in community arts and culture or in educational systems. There are no shortage of perceived needs in our society and thankfully no shortage of concerned groups rising to fill those needs.
I work with nonprofit organizations to develop fundraising events and marketing strategies to help them grab their share of the estimated $410 billion that American individuals, estates, corporations and foundations are estimated to give annually to nonprofits, faith-based organizations and other charities. (Infographic provided by Giving USA based on current data). Below is my personal take on what motivates someone to donate to a charity - and important to note that I believe there is NO WRONG REASON to give.
Top 5 Reasons People Give to a Charity1. They have a personal connection to the cause such as giving to the American Lung Association because a grandfather had Lung Cancer. Or feeling the loss of a neighbor's child to a drunk driver and giving to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
2. In exchange for a benefit such as: a ticket to a gala, a foursome of golf, a trip to Africa (at a charity auction) or for having their name engraved on a donor wall.
3. Because they are influenced by a group giving ask - from a religious or social group, from the company they work for or from family and friends.
4. To receive a tax benefit. To note, if you donate $100, you don't actually receive a $100 off your tax bill. You would receive a percentage of the $100 based on your tax bracket - which according to the US Tax Center is 10% to 37%.
5. They are inspired or motivated by nonprofit marketing efforts. Here a nonprofit organization has creatively gathered facts, figures, stories and insights about "the cause" and presented them in a meaningful fashion to a target donor in an impactful way.