Elizabeth Chung

9 Words that Tap Into the Psychology of Giving

For nonprofits, understanding donor behavior has been the well-sought secret to creating an effective fundraising campaign. And although there may not be a silver bullet to instant fundraising success, tapping into the psychology of giving has revealed that there really may be several magic words that can induce a higher rate of giving.  According to Jen Shang, a philanthropic psychologist, the ingredient to increased donations can be as simple as changing a few words in your ask.

9 Effective Words for Fundraising

According to Shang,

1. Kind
2. Caring
3. Compassionate
4. Helpful
5. Friendly
6. Fair
7. Hard-working
8. Generous
9. Honest

Select a couple of adjectives from this list and weave them into your ask. Make the connection for your supporters between the act of a contribution and their innermost perceptions of who they are as individuals.

Gender Complex

Interestingly enough, female and male donors respond to different adjectives used in fundraising asks. Shang’s research has shown that when appeals use adjectives from the previous list, women then increase their giving on average by 10 percent. On the other hand, male donors are prompted to give more when solicitations use adjectives like “strong,” “responsible,” and “loyal.”

When wording your appeal, consider the donor base you’re addressing. Depending on your target audience, some key adjectives may be more appropriate than others in motivating supporters to give.

Tailoring the Tone of an Ask

Because donors are more likely to give when making a contribution is personally meaningful to them, customize your language so that supporters can connect supporting your cause as a part of their core sense as individuals.

Donors will also give when they can trust and feel satisfied with the way they are treated by the organization. That being said, remember that your “thank-you” is just as important as your “please.” Promptly thank your donors, inform them about the outcome of your campaign, and let them know how their contributions helped make a difference.

If you follow these simple guidelines to tap into the psychology of giving, you could increase engagement and maintain longer, more meaningful relationships with donors.

Have an Idea for a Fundraising Campaign?

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