A Donor's Motive

The article below from The Chronicle of Philanthropy shows that charities would raise more money if they knew a donor's particular motive.

Title: Money for Good 2015

Organization: Camber Collective

Summary: Nonprofits could reap billions of dollars more in donations by tailoring their fundraising to fit people’s preferences, argues consulting firm Camber Collective in a new report. The firm also recommends that charities take better advantage of giving vehicles such as employer matching and donor-advised funds.

The report was based on interviews with about 50 people and online-survey results from 3,000 respondents with annual household incomes of at least $80,000 (half of whom had household incomes of more than $300,000).

The report theorizes that giving in the United States has not risen above 2 percent of the gross domestic product since the 1970s because some people mistrust nonprofits, others feel overwhelmed by the giving process, and still others report such high levels of satisfaction with their donation habits that they have not felt compelled to give more.

Types of Supporters

Camber Collective said the results revealed five donor types that represent combinations of traits that include age, political beliefs, gender, and religious affiliation:

  • contented benefactor
  • unengaged critic
  • busy idealist
  • cautious striver
  • unaware potential

According to the report, the people represented by the last three models have the most potential to give more generously if nonprofits create appeals that target their concerns.

Camber Collective recommends categorizing people based on what motivates their actions to determine which potential donors have these attitudes and would be most receptive to particular donation appeals. If fundraisers know their organizations’ donors well and want to focus on a relatively small subset, they can do it manually, says Josh Drake, engagement manager with Camber Collective. But nonprofits can also do it by giving donors short surveys, such as the one the firm used for its study.

Donor-Advised Funds

The Money for Good report also recommends that nonprofits embrace workplace giving and donor-advised funds as donation channels.

"People using all of their [employer] match is shockingly low," Mr. Drake said. "If we can get people to use a larger percentage of the match that is already offered, we look at that as almost all new money, or close to it."

Mr. Drake acknowledged that some nonprofits are squeamish about donor-advised funds. But he pointed to the report’s finding that 46 percent of survey participants who are interested in using the funds in the future (about 275 people) say they’d contribute new charitable money through them, not simply funnel donations they were making previously.

"That’s something everyone should be excited about, including nonprofits," he said.

Among the other findings:

  • 49 percent of survey respondents said they were concerned about how nonprofits use their donations.
  • 98 percent of those people ranked it among their top three concerns.
  • 75 percent of people surveyed thought they gave at an average level (3.6 percent of household income among participants) or higher, but in reality, 72 percent gave less than the survey’s average.
  • 61 percent of respondents indicated that they prefer giving to well-known nonprofits.
  • Among respondents who used employer-match programs, 33 percent maximized the match.
  • 39 percent of those who didn’t said it was because the organizations they prefer to give to weren’t offered by the program.