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Giving Back - Uncovering the Whys and Hows of Donor Motivation

Giving Back - Uncovering the Whys and Hows of Donor Motivation

Chapter Leadership Brief 9.8.2023

By: Bre Alexander
Content Marketing Manager, iWave


Giving is an inherent part of human nature, driven by the desire to improve the world. While pursuing world betterment remains a driving force, deeper motivations have emerged – reward and social connection.

As we explore the reasoning behind giving, we uncover that beneath the surface, the emotional gratification we receive from kindness motivates us.

Let’s dive in.

Why Do People Give?

Like many of us, donors and volunteers are motivated to make the world a better place. It’s what you should do, after all. However, that’s not the primary motivator for generosity. The biggest motivator for charitable giving is reward and social attachment. We give because it feels good. Those good vibes connect us to others. While perhaps viewed as a selfish motivation, it simply means people feel happy when they’re being kind, and that’s pretty rad.

Giving to charity shapes and strengthens our values. Humans have a moral compass that directs us to help others. Another main reason that donors give is that they were asked! Don’t underestimate the power of asking!

Top Reasons People Give

We understand why people give, but what are the primary motivators for giving?

Drawing from the Network For Good’s survey of 3,000 donors, let's delve into the top seven reasons why donors give:

1. Donors are mission-driven
Mission-driven Donors have a deep-seated alignment with an organization's goals, values, and purpose. They are drawn to causes that resonate with their personal beliefs and convictions.

2. Donors trust your organization
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. This is true of the donor-nonprofit dynamic. Donors who trust your organization believe in your integrity, transparency, and effective use of resources.

3. Donors understand their impact
Donors who understand the impact and importance of their contributions are more likely to remain engaged and motivated to give. They seek clarification on how their support has led to positive change and improvements.

4. Donors have a personal connection to your cause
A personal connection, like a family member or themselves, receiving your services is a potent driver for donor engagement. Donors who share a personal history or emotional tie to your organization's mission will likely be more invested.

5. Donors want to be a part of something meaningful
We all want to be part of something larger than ourselves. This is especially true when it comes to your donors. They are motivated to contribute to meaningful change and positive impact.

6. Donors are engaged
Engaged donors are involved beyond the act of giving. They participate in events, volunteer, and assist with fundraising campaigns. These donors have a vested interest in the organization's activities.

7. Donors want tax benefits
A more practical motivator, the want for tax benefits remains a factor in charitable giving. Donors will often take advantage of tax deductions to maximize the impact of their contributions. However, it's important to remember that while tax benefits may initially attract donors, it's other factors that ultimately sustain their support over time.

Strategies for Distinctiveness in a Crowded Landscape

Many donors generously support more than one nonprofit, and that’s great. But how do you ensure that your nonprofit is included? Just like in sales showcasing your uniqueness and how your organization wholeheartedly fulfills its mission is crucial.

Crafting a Compelling Proposition: Clearly outline what sets your organization apart and how it achieves its mission. This should be a concise, compelling statement that shines a light on your achievements.

Know your target audience: Understand their pain points, preferences, and behaviors. Tailor your messaging to resonate with their specific desires, values, and needs.

Personalization: Personalization shows that you care about the individual. Thanking your donors can go a long way in ensuring your donors return and spread the word about your cause.

Transparency and Trust: Build trust in your organization by being transparent with what’s going on behind the scenes. Let your donors know what you’re doing and what’s needed. Transparency and trust will help you build lasting donor relationships.

Social proof: Showcase positive feedback, testimonials, case studies and endorsements from happy volunteers and donors.

Unique Branding and Identity: Develop a memorable, distinctive identity that reflects your values as an organization that will resonate with your target audience. You want to be instantly recognizable in the mix.

By embracing the intricacies of giving and integrating strategies highlighting your organization’s individuality, you pave the way for a culture of enduring donor support. This journey is a testament to the multi-faceted nature of human generosity – a journey that intertwines selflessness, personal fulfillment, and a shared commitment to creating a better world.

Bre Alexander

Bre Alexander is a content marketing manager at iWave. She has a diploma in Marketing and Advertising Management and has found her passion for empowering nonprofit organizations through her work. A self-proclaimed geek, Bre has used her unique skill set and experience to create engaging content and help implement new processes. Bre is outgoing, creative, and determined to continuously learn and grow.

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