Psychology of personal philanthropy

The more that you understand about your donor’s motivations, the more effective you will become at inspiring their generosity. A great example comes from the above video, which cites this study by Paul Slovic. He researches decision-making at the University of Oregon.

Slovic’s research finds that it is difficult for people to feel like they can make a difference when faced with tragedy – they feel completely overwhelmed. Indeed, recent environmental and human disasters such as the Colorado shooting and Japanese tsunami, as well as the ongoing Syrian uprising can make well-meaning people feel helpless in the face of catastrophe.

Fundraising consultancy The Stelter Company took Slovic’s research to heart by aiming their clients’ appeals to be more personal and focused on supporting individuals and families, rather than entire groups. They included more names and faces in their campaigns, as opposed to data, and saw a much higher return on their ask. A related example can also be seen on this billboard.

It can be a tricky business to inspire personal philanthropy, but with a little research and insight into donor behavior, the results can be very rewarding – and your donors will feel empowered to make a difference through your organization.

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