Why do people choose to donate to certain charities and not to others? What is it that encourages donors to set up a direct debit and give a percentage – however small – of their monthly income to an organisation that they may or may not have been supported by themselves? 

As fundraisers we need to understand what these motivations are so that we can ensure our messaging, events and community outreach continue to inspire. When we understand what motivates our supporters to give, our fundraising efforts become that bit easier to plan and execute. 

Donors are motivated by a range of different factors – from personal values and emotions to social influences. In this blog we’re going to look at six key motivating factors that you can leverage to maximise support for your own campaigns.  

Personal Values and Beliefs: Donors are often driven by their personal values and beliefs. Whether it’s a commitment to social justice, environmental conservation or supporting education, people are much more likely to donate to causes that align with their core principles.  

As fundraisers, we can tap into this motivation by clearly communicating how our organisation’s mission, vision and activities resonate with these values. When it’s obvious to a donor how their support will help to deliver on this mission, it reinforces that sense of purpose and helps to foster long-term engagement.  

Top tip: Your mission statement isn’t just for your website. Explore how you might weave it into all your communications, inspiring people who share your values and admire your guiding principles. 

Emotional Connection: Emotions play a huge role in charitable giving. Research has shown that compelling stories and imagery that evoke feelings of empathy, compassion and hope can have a significant impact on donor behaviour. People are much more likely to donate when they feel a strong emotional connection to a charity or the people it supports.  

Top tip: Look for stories wherever you can! Capture them with photos, videos, testimonials. Show people why their help is needed and the huge difference it can make when it’s given. A powerful image, a compelling video, a headline that stops someone in their tracks – these are the things that will trigger that shift in brain chemistry, activate the empathy circuitry, and motivate someone to click that ‘donate now’ button. 

Social Norms and Influence: As social beings, our behaviour is often influenced (probably way more than we’d like to think) by social norms and peer pressure. It’s why social proof has become such an essential part of the marketing mix for brands and organisations in the commercial space. Simply put, we’re much more likely to do something if everyone else is doing it – the ice bucket challenge being a perfect example! As fundraisers we can capitalise on this by highlighting the collective impact of donations and showcasing the support of existing donors. Your social-media platforms are the perfect place to amplify this social influence.  

Top tip: Make it easy for your existing supporters to share your message with others in their network. Pins, car stickers and other physical items work well in the offline space while banners or icons that can be added to social media are a quick and easy way for donors to showcase their support online.  

Perceived Impact and Efficacy: Donors want to feel confident that their contributions will make a meaningful difference and have a tangible impact on the problems your organisation addresses. Providing transparency and accountability reassures your supporters that their money is being well spent and that they’re making a valuable contribution.  

Top tip: Invite your supporters behind the scenes as much as possible and keep them up to date with how projects are progressing. Again, social media is a great place to do this, as is your regular newsletter.  

Personal Connection and Recognition: We all appreciate being recognised and valued for the contributions we make. Acknowledging your supporters’ generosity through personalised thank-you messages, donor-recognition programmes and exclusive updates, helps to make them feel that all-important sense of connection and belonging.  

Top tip:  Give your supporters as many opportunities to engage directly with your organisation as possible. They will really appreciate being shown the love. 

Altruism and Empowerment: Lots of people are motivated by a genuine desire to make a positive impact and contribute to the greater good – particularly given how difficult things have been over the last few years. Altruism or a genuine desire to make change, give back, alleviate suffering and campaign for equity drives many people to support causes that address these issues. Supporting a charity gives people some sense of empowerment and fulfilment, knowing that they are doing what they can to effect change.  

Top tip: Remind people of the power of collective action and the crucial role that individuals play in driving meaningful progress.  

Most of us are juggling a million things in any given day and it can be easy to fall into habits and patterns when it comes to our planning and communications, but taking the time to really get to know our supporters and understand what matters to them can make a huge difference to the success of our fundraising.  

Keep having conversations, test and have fun getting creative.

As always, we’re here if you’d like help getting to know your supporters better, whether that’s creating a donor stewardship programme, a smart welcome pack, hosting a focus group or support firming up your propositions. Pop an email to hello@pebblebeachfundraising.com and we’ll book a call.