INDIANAPOLIS - Despite some longstanding perceptions that people in different regions of the United States are more or less motivated to give to charity based on differing underlying values that might be specific to a region, a new analysis by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has revealed that regional trends and values have less of an impact on donor motivation than income and education do.
Nearly one in five donors says that the most important reason to give to charity is to help meet people’s basic needs. However, a key finding of the research is that, while there are differences in the percentage of people who select different motivations within each region of the country, those variations can be explained by regional differences in income and education, not underlying values specific to the region.
Understanding Donor Motivations was funded by CCS, a national fundraising, consulting and management firm. The report draws on data from more than 10,000 households to examine charitable giving and donor motivation for giving.
The study finds that 18 percent of donors said that the single most important reason for giving to charity is to help meet people’s basic needs, such as for food, shelter, clothing, and heat. That motivation was followed by “making the world a better place,” which was identified by 17 percent of donors as their most important reason for giving.
“Research repeatedly shows that higher income and higher education levels are associated with a greater likelihood of giving to charity and with higher average gift amounts,” said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy. “With this study, we find that the ways donors describe their giving motivations also vary with income and education. This has implications for fundraising messages in all their forms.”
One of the most significant findings is that donors in different income groups identified different motivations for their giving:
- Among lower-income donors (income less than $50,000), the phrases that resonated as a motivation for giving were helping to meet basic needs or helping the poor help themselves.
- Donors with income between $50,000 and $100,000 were more likely than donors in either higher or lower income groups to say that they gave to “make the world better.”
- Among donors with income of $100,000 or more, the phrases selected as motivations for giving included “those with more should help those with less” or “making my community better.”
These income differences in the motivations selected were statistically significant and took into account differences in education level, marital status, and age so as to isolate the effect of income differences on motivations.
“At CCS, we advise nonprofit organizations to strengthen their donor cultivation and stewardship initiatives, including increasing their understanding of how they can best relate to donors of different backgrounds,” said Robert Kissane, President of CCS. “Donors are individuals and personalized strategies for engagement are crucial. Today’s donors want to make a difference, see real impact, and understand the return on investment of their gifts. The overall objective of giving doesn’t necessarily change as a result of geography, but this study shows that the way donors describe their reasons for giving often varies, therefore the messaging and case for support needs to appeal to that particular constituency’s motivation.”
In 2007, CCS established the William B. Hanrahan CCS Fellowship. Now the study pays tribute to the late president and CEO. The Hanrahan CCS Fellowship supports research undertaken by doctoral students in Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
To read more about the findings of Understanding Donor Motivations conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and sponsored by CCS, visit CCS website or read the summary and full report on the Center's website.
CCS is a leading fund-raising consulting and management firm established in 1947. The firm works with major non-profit organizations in designing and implementing significant fund-raising campaigns and programs with goals in excess of $5 billion. CCS clients are among the most recognizable brands in philanthropy nationally and internationally. They are dedicated to supporting fund-raising education and programs, as well as advancing non-profit institutions through philanthropic growth. For more information, please call Kelly Albanese, Director of Marketing Communications at 212-497-7453 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.ccsfundraising.com.
About the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice worldwide through research, teaching, training and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising, and management of nonprofit organizations. A part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the Center operates program on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses. For more information, please contact Adriene Davis at 317-278-8972 or email@example.com or visit www.philanthropy.iupui.edu.