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The Futurist

How do donors choose the charities to give to?

This article is the second instalment of the fundraising ebook series. You can read our previous blogs here.

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It’s often assumed that we donate to charities for a common purpose, mainly to give out of kindness. However, donor activity is shown to mimic our personal interests, rather than an action to help where the greatest need lies.

In 2016, there were 54,000 recorded registered charities in Australia. As a giving society, we often donate our time, effort and money to charitable groups to show our support for a common cause. With so many charities competing for attention, how do we (humans!) choose the organisations to give our support to?

Here are five main themes which guide our choices:


1. Taste, preferences and passions

Our choices are dictated by our lifestyle and interests and it shows in the organisations we choose to give to. A person who loves animals will donate to the RSPCA whereas giving to Oxfam Australia would make sense to another person with a passion for international development and human rights.

2. Personal and professional backgrounds

The Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy suggested that people align their passion to give with their professional careers. Professional athletes are likely to contribute to programs providing opportunities for young athletes with disabilities while a nutritionist might prefer to give their dollars to a Foodbank supplying breakfast to children.

Another key factor that influences a donor to make specific charitable decisions is their personal background. Specific life experiences, say having to care for a loved one with cancer, may affect a person’s choice to donate due to the connection they have with the issue.

3. Perception of charitable competency

In order to give you money, people want to know your organisation is capable of achieving its mission, and aesthetics is a big part of that. Having professional, consistent branding and strong visual communications is highly valuable in developing trust with your audiences.

4. Values alignment

Another consideration for people when deciding which particular charity to engage with is how well their values align. People of faith are more likely to engage with religious based organisations, likewise progressive and conservative organisations attract like minded individuals.

5. Desire for personal impact

The desire to leave a legacy or personally make a positive impact in society plays a part in motivating people to give. Donors want to be able to see that impact in a tangible way, for many people this might mean preferencing smaller nonprofits, so they can see their donation at work.

Learn about strategies to engage your community whichever way they decide to donate, you can find our fundraising ebook here.

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Topics: Nonprofit