Donors make the decision to give based on a variety of reasons. Many choose to give to nonprofit organizations with which they are familiar while others base their donation decisions solely on the mission of the organization and the people involved. A donor that feels a personal connection to a cause is more likely to give a large sum of time and money to that organization.
So, just how much do personal connections influenced giving? It’s been found that when people have a personal connection to a cause (or know someone who does), it can lead them — and others — to be more supportive.
In a recent research study, subjects were told varying stories about a college student. In one case, the student’s parent suffered a heart attack. In another case, the student’s parent had been diagnosed with cancer. When the student graduated, he went to work for the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society. Some research subjects got a scenario that matched the parent’s condition and some did not.
Research subjects were then asked how they would react if the student invited them to a volunteer event. When the event was directly related to the student’s personal experience, people were sympathetic and said they would have a hard time saying no. When the event was not — for example, the student whose parent suffered a heart attack was advocating for the Cancer Society — the effect was not the same.
Play into the emotions of your donors. Personal connections and stories have a big effect on giving — so if you’ve got them, use them.
Donors are also more likely to make larger donations when they relate to the person they are helping. This has been called the “identifiable victim effect” or “singularity effect.”
Researchers have shown that people donate more when they can identify with one person in need. More than that, people are most likely to help an individual whom they perceive to be similar to their social category and nationality — or when they share that person’s ideology.
All of us are biologically wired to process the concrete — that is, people, not statistics. While we understand and value statistics, they do not touch on our emotions enough to make us want to give.
So how does a nonprofit organization bridge the distance and make their cause more relatable? The following suggestions can help any organization connect with the heart of the donor and move them to not only give to their cause, but also support the continuing efforts of that organization.
- When you talk about a cause, discuss the need in terms of people who are as relatable as possible. Remember, the more your donors feel connected to the cause, the more likely they are to understand and support your message.
- Stop using the statistics to convert your audience into donors. Tell stories about people in need.
- Use social fundraising techniques (such as Causes on Facebook) to win support for a cause. Ask friends to help your organization through their personal connections and social media. When we personally know the person who is asking for money to support a particular cause, we’re more likely to give.
Strive to make personal connections while fundraising. The story about an individual your organization helped will reach further than any statistic or marketing strategy would. Take the time to connect with your donors, and you’ll find just how much more they are willing to give.