People like to give because it fosters a warm glow. Therefore, more asking equals more opportunities for this warm glow. Ergo, donors are happy, satisfied, and fueled with positive motivation to keep giving contingent on you continually asking.
When I see this logic train cited it conjures up a record player’s arm lifted, the needle skidding across the vinyl’s grooved surface and a screeching sound clawing at the air.
Warm glow may be a real phenomenon but it’s not what creates long-term connection and therefore value. It’s too fleeting, ephemeral. And that’s with me setting aside the Grand Canyon sized assumption that your appeals are in fact, fostering warm glow potential vs. negative emotions.
Here’s proof. This is data from almost 4,000 donors across a wide cross section of charities. DonorVoice directly measured motivational quality and combined this data with CRM giving data.
There’s only one type of Motivation positively correlated with retention (i.e., years on active file). All the others are negative, including warm glow.
The vast majority of givers who keep giving do so for auto-biographical and personal reasons. This likely rings true to anyone who’s talked to a person about why a charity made it into their will.
There’s no such thing as a long-term donor without this innate, personal connection as evidenced by this plot showing nothing but white space in the lower right.
This chart does show some people making it to the upper right – high degree of personal connection and long tenure. But industry retention data and the large cluster of people in the upper left are highly suggestive of our leaving a lot of connection on the table.
This loss sits there like latent energy. The connection to mission is real. Making it easy for the person to see their values and goals in your interaction with them is the missing flame. Those sticking around long enough to traverse to the upper right are putting in a lot of mental energy, often in spite of the brand interaction, not because of it.
How to change this? For starters, Identity and Personality Fundraising. Their Identity is that part of them connected to your mission. The conservationist, the alumnus, the dog lover, the cancer survivor, the globalist, the activist… Their Personality is how you package the Identity message. Not all Conservationists are the same.
Knowing your donor’s Identity and Personality, whether you have 1,000 donors or 1,000,000, is doable, in days. Having and acting on this knowledge it not limited by organizational size.
Choosing to fundraise differently and not treat everyone the same is 100% mindset.
Your donors are different but predictably so. You can maximize their connection and your return by acting on it. Do or don’t, your call. But don’t, chose “don’t” with warm glow and business as usual as your fallback.