What Motivates People to Give?

We have all had it happen, you’re walking down the street and someone comes up to you and asks you for money. There are a million stories, some of them genuine and some made-up scams.

Regardless of the truth of the story, if you give someone a couple of dollars on a street corner it probably isn’t going to change their life. At best it’s a kind gesture on your part.

This represents a certain kind of giving, we call it “benevolence”. 

  1. It’s usually a one-time thing. 
  2. It rarely makes a lot of difference to the giver or the recipient.
  3. You can expect it to be quickly forgotten. 

None of that makes it a bad thing to do, benevolent giving is something we should all probably find was to do. But it isn’t what you’re looking for. There are two types of giving, benevolent giving is one but the far more important one to you is what we call “investment giving”. 

What Motivates People to Give?

Investment giving has a different set of characteristics.

  1. Investment, by nature, demands a return. Something specific happens because of it.
  2. Investment demands value. The result has to matter or have actual worth.
  3. Investment produces something that lasts.

Most often when people think of investment they are thinking of financial accounts that grow over time, and the return is an ever growing amount of money to provide for your future.

We all get that and we should probably all do more of it. When people participate in “investment giving” they are placing funding in the hands of an organization that they believe is going to use that money to accomplish something specific that they believe needs to be accomplished.

What Motivates Donors to Give? A Nonprofit Resource by DonorFarm

If I believe in saving the baby whales then I am going to quickly realize that on my own I can’t really do much that makes a difference. But if I can find an organization that is doing a great job accomplishing this cause that I care so much about, and then I put money in their hands so that they can do more of it, do it faster, or do it better, I am actually making a financial investment and anticipating a return that is saved baby whales! 

Maybe you should give some deep thought to what kind of giving you are motivating when you talk to potential donors. When people give to you are they really understanding what problem you’re solving, how you do it effectively, and how you will do it better if they help to fund your work? If you can legitimately say that yes, your donors understand all of that and are motivated to give then they are investing.

Otherwise, your donors are probably just being polite, being nice, and giving you a little something just out of the goodness of their hearts. In other words, they are making small donations they don’t really care about instead of larger investments because they are passionate about your cause.

DonorFarm has all sorts of great materials and ideas that will help you to make the best possible presentations to current and potential donors. Keep watching videos, listening to podcasts, and reading blogs to learn more and more about how to grow and nurture great donor relationships!

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