Right on the Money: Matching Charities to the Donors Most Likely to Support Them

A donation box with hundred dollar bills in it.

What motivates people to give to charity? That’s the million dollar question for nonprofit organizations. To answer it, the Money for Good study, conducted by Hope Consulting of San Francisco, surveyed 4,000 people who make $80,000 or more a year. Givers broke down into the following categories:

Repayers like to give back to organizations or causes that have benefited them or people close to them.

Casual givers want giving to be easy, and they prefer to support established and respected organizations.

High impact givers support causes that don’t get attention by giving to organizations that do a good job addressing those issues.

Faith-based givers count religion as their single most important motivator.

See-the-difference givers donate to small local organizations that serve the community because they feel their gift will make more of a difference.

Personal ties givers have a close connection to the organization or person who asks them for a gift.

Hope Neighbor, founder and CEO of Hope Consulting, recommends that nonprofits focus on two to three of the six groups, rather than trying to be all things to all people. “Identify the segments that are most likely to give to you, and shape your marketing and the donor experience around the motivations and needs of the segments you choose,” she says.

With that in mind, we gave Neighbor examples of four hypothetical youth-serving nonprofits and asked what advice she would give to each. Her suggestions are laid out as follows:

  • Small donor groups should target see-the-difference givers with key messages like: “Gifts are used in your community,” “Gifts make a big difference for the people we serve – and here’s how,” and “A donation of $X buys Y.”
  • A large social service organization that serves two counties should target high impact givers and casual givers. Key messages to high impact givers are “Here’s the issue and why it’s important,” “Here’s the impact we’re having and the way we’re changing things.” Key messages to casual givers include “We’re the best at working on this important issue,” “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we have a great track record,” “We’re respected in the community” and “It’s easy to give to us by [giving at work, online, at one of our events].”
  • Education and job-training program or college-preparation program s should target repayers with key messages like “Stay in touch with us,” “We keep you in touch with your fellow alumni,” and “You can give back by making a donation or volunteering.”
  • A youth-serving organization with strong religious orientation should target faith-based givers with the key message, “Faith is integral to our work.”

The report “Money for Good: The U.S. Market Opportunity for Impact Investments and Charitable Gifts From Individual Donors and Investors” is available at http://www.hopeconsulting.us/money-for-good.

Right on the Money is an ongoing series about how to keep the doors of nonprofit organizations open in good times and bad. If there's a topic you'd like us to address here, please e-mail us.


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