Give an amount when you ask

There are lots of debates around whether you should give an indication of the level of donation people should make. I have often been surprised at people (who I really thought would be in one school of thought) who have said….no you should leave it up to the donor to decide.

I am probably more on the side of give an indication. It of course has to be at the right level (and thats probably the trick). So often we just guess that level and we should probably be more scientific about it. But still if you suggest to someone that $5 is a good amount, well then they may give 5 or they may think, you know what I can afford 10, or maybe (even better) 5 a month!

I believe if you leave it open people start to debate the level they should give. And once they start having that debate you are in danger of losing them because they can easily talk themself out of the donation.

Linked to this is my belief that we should try and steer away from totals and goals too much. I think if you tell someone your organisation needs to raise X million a year or X hundred thousand for your campaign…you are in danger of alienating them and they will say well how is my small (not small to them) donation going to make an impact. Also if you start to announce a total, we have raised X, then people start to think…well they have done so well now, I dont think they need my help.

These are of course my thoughts! Not based on science or research, but Paul Dervan posted today about this and it backs up, scientifically, the start of my post. here is what he said:

Did you know that when fundraising, you can increase donations raised if you let people know that even a tiny amount would help?

Robert B. Cialdini, an author and researcher, had an interesting theory. He believed that many people would genuinely like to help charitable causes. But they can’t afford to give much. And they don’t believe the few cents they could afford would be that beneficial.

To test this theory, Robert and some other researchers went door-to-door, fundraising for the American Cancer Society. They asked half the residents “Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?” To the other half, they added an extra comment – “Even a penny will help“.

The results? Those told that “even a penny will help” were almost twice as likely to donate (50% v 28.6%).

Makes sense that more people donated – but did this increase the total funds donated?

Yes. The researchers found that for every 100 people asked, they raised $72 from the “even a penny will help” group, while only raising $44 from the other group.

Interesting stuff. Robert has a book worth a read with other good case studies. It is light and easy reading. ‘Yes!:50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive‘. I noticed that 58 people have reviewed it on, with an impressive 5 star average rating.


2 thoughts on “Give an amount when you ask

  1. Beth, that is great. I hadnt heard about this and had actually had the thought the other day about a similar experiment, where I was going to ask two people to donate two euor/pounds/dollars and then ask two more to do the same. I will have to post about this though. This is great

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