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Giving is good and makes people happy. That’s the short summary of my science of giving posts and infographics, but I recently saw another great infographic around this topic. The good folks at Happify cover different studies and stats around giving – not just to charity but to friends and with their time through volunteering. In reading it, there were a few things that stuck out as potential ‘actionable insights’ for marketers and fundraisers.

3 Science of Giving Infographic Insights For Your Fundraising and Marketing

1. Social sharing after a donation

When we give, the pleasure centre of the brain lights up and releases oxytocin which gives us a good feeling similar to a ‘runner’s high’. Oxytocin also increases our sense of empathy towards others (for up to 2 hours according to this infographic) and can lead us to take other actions of generosity. So allowing, or asking, people to share with or invite others to join them and give after they have made a donation seems to make sense. We recently introduced a post-donation share option at Chimp and, anecdotally, the results are very positive.

This type of strategy is similar to asking people to make a another or recurring donation fairly quickly after their original gift or sending multiple emails with actions right after someone has signed up to your newsletter. When people take an action, there is a window where they are more likely to take another action, particularly if there is some kind of pleasure response or reward involved.

It may seem counterintuitive to ask for more action after an action but we seem hard wired for it so it’s worth exploring and giving it a try.

2. Find ways to incorporate volunteers

I’m a bit of a volunteer grinch. I personally haven’t had the greatest of experiences in the past and I don’t consider myself very good at managing volunteers which plays a role in my grinchdom. I also believe quite strongly that really important projects, activities or strategies should not be outsourced to and implemented by volunteers to tackle in their free time. But that doesn’t mean volunteering isn’t good overall and can’t be good for your organization. Quite the opposite.

I’m sure you’ve seen some stat or another that shows those who volunteer also give more. But did you know volunteering is also good for them? According to the infographic, 76% of volunteers felt healthier, 96% improved their mood and 78% felt less stressed.

If you are thinking about how you can deliver value to your supporters, and you should be thinking about that…, volunteering should be at or near the top of the list as it’s a win-win. You get engagement and potentially dollars. They feel healthier, happier and less stressed.

3. Ask with focused options

Giving feels good to us because it’s a voluntary act where we ‘give up’ something of ours to help others. But if your asks and communications make it feel more like it’s mandatory and a must, then the act can feel cheaper or not produce as much of that ‘givers high’. So how can you make a clear, direct ask while still giving some autonomy? One suggestion is to give them options.

Now don’t go crazy and provide a dozen options but maybe you make an appeal for a project that asks for $100 but you let the donor choose between three sub-projects to give to. Or you provide them with three general areas they can select to support. I believe this is one of the reasons some organizations have success with the gift catalogues (even though I’m not a huge fan of them) as it offers more choice to the donor. They then feel more ownership when giving and feel better while doing it. This is a good thing.

Those were three insights that stood out to me from the science of giving infographic below but take a read through and let me know if any others jump out.



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