by guest blogger George Crankovic
In fundraising appeals, we have a one-track mind. We ask for money, but rarely if ever for donors' time as volunteers.
Asking donors to give their time may increase their giving, research shows.
In one study, The Happiness of Giving: The Time-Ask Effect, people were split into two groups. One group was asked how many hours they'd be willing to give as volunteers to a certain charity, while the other group wasn't asked about volunteering at all. Then both groups were asked how much money they'd give.
The people who weren't asked about volunteering gave an average of $24. But the group that was asked first about volunteering gave an average of $36.
You might think that guilt motivated people to give money in place of time spent volunteering. But researchers concluded it's more complicated than that.
People generally have positive feelings when they consider spending their time. They think about social events or other activities that represent emotional meaning and well being for them. So when they think about spending time volunteering, it has positive emotional connotations. But when asked to spend money, people go into a more analytical mode. They evaluate the dollars spent and what they get in return.
Two different mindsets. Emotional for giving time; analytical for giving money. We know that donors give for emotional reasons, and based on this research, asking donors to volunteer their time is another way to tap into emotional motivations for giving a gift.
Will it hold true for your donors? Here are some ways to find out:
- Add a checkbox for donors to get more information about volunteering on the response device of your direct mail appeals and on the donation page for your e-appeals.
- Consider adding a story about a volunteer in your appeal. The story should fit in with the offer, of course, but showing donors how their gifts empower volunteers could emphasize the time aspect of giving.
- Include a prominent call to volunteer in your newsletter that plays up the benefits of giving one's time.
- Have a story about a volunteer in your newsletter and emphasize how much this person enjoys it and draws satisfaction from it.
Certainly worth testing. Asking for donors' time could boost income, and at the very least, you'll gain volunteers.