Effort is a Fundraising Killer
September 7, 2022
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
Effort, be it physical or mental is often avoided. People will even endure physical pain to avoid mental effort in lab settings.
If there are two equally rewarding outcomes we humans tend to follow the law of least work, the path of least resistance.
Think about giving to charity. You do or you don’t. If both are equally rewarding then I’ll choose to not give because of it requires more effort.
The money is rarely the barrier, often it’s effort. We ask someone to give we are asking for effort. Effort to process the ask, effort to transact and effort to process the outcome – i.e. how did I feel after giving?
This analysis of effort is visually a bit wonky but here are the high points,
- Each dot is a person and in these experiments people were divided into two groups, measuring effort to help themselves (e.g. get reward) versus either charity (purple) or a stranger (green).
- That almost all the dots sit below the 0.0, horizontal dotted line means almost everybody is willing to put more effort in for themselves versus others (charity or stranger).
- The vertical dashed line marks whether people felt a sense of connection to the charity/stranger. To the left means less sense of connection, to the right of line means more.
- A sense of connection to the beneficiary makes the charity people much more likely to put in more effort as you see more of those folks above the purple line.
- Not shown here is that Agreeable people (Big Five Personality that you can append to your file) are much more likely to feel a connection and give.
- If time kills all deals, effort kills (a lot of) giving.
- The decision to give is never in a vacuum or against an unknown “opponent”.
- The decision to give is always weighed against the benefit to me.
- I get benefit from less effort.
- I get benefit keeping my money and using it on me.
- If I gave in the past and didn’t find the experience rewarding then I get benefit in avoiding feeling bad about by giving decision.
- The give choice has to overcome all these non-giving benefits.
- One of the ways to increase my willingness to expend effort is by creating a connection between me and the beneficiary. This is all about shared Identity.
- Agreeable people are predisposed to see shared connection, aim your fundraising effort disproportionately at them. We can find these folks using proxy data in social and in 3rd party data.