Factors Motivating Individual Donors – What Empirical Research Tells Us

What motivates individual donors? What is the empirical evidence on this question? While researching the subject, I came across a few good papers that I summarize below.

1. Factors Influencing Alumni Donation
Sarunya Lertputtarak and Surat Supitchayangkool (2014) International Journal of Business and Management, 9(3), 170–179. https://doi.org/ 10.5539/ijbm.v9n3p170.

The study examined the influence of demographic factors (gender, age, marital status), student satisfactory interactions, academic system, social networks and other communication tools with alumni donations, using quantitative research which involved 456 participants answering questionnaires. The participants were former and current students studying masters and doctoral degree programs in business from Burapha University, Thailand. It concluded that demographic factors and student satisfactory interactions were shown to have no influence on a willingness to donate to the institution. The willingness to donate was seen in factors such as the academic system, social network, and other communication tools used by the university with its students.

2. A Conceptual Framework on the Relationship between Nation Brand Perception and Donation Behaviour

Jessica Helmi and Riza Cassidy Mulyanegara (2011)  Proceedings of “Marketing in the Age of Consumerism: Jekyll or Hyde?”, The Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, 53(9), 1689–1699. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

The study was conducted to develop a conceptual framework of donation behaviour, with nation brand perceptions chosen as a mediating variable between donation motives and donation behaviour. The framework proposed that the willingness and extent of contribution to a charitable cause of a nation is directly related to the people’s perception of the nation’s brand. The framework also proposes that the relationship between a nation’s brand perception and the donation behaviour of people is moderated by the brand image of the charitable organisations of that nation. Further, the perception of a nation’s brand and the brand image of the charitable organisations of that nation is significantly affected by integrated marketing communications (IMC).  The study is constrained by two limitations. Firstly, there is a lack of empirical evidence on the links between variables discussed in the conceptual framework. Secondly, the most difficult part of the framework relates to the development of scales that sufficiently reflect the essence of the IMC process in charitable organisations which can be linked to organisations’ brand image and donation behaviour. The study concludes by asserting that the conceptual framework presented in the paper can be testable in future studies.

3. What Motivates Donor’s to Give?

ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors; Vol 12 No 1
September 11, 2014

The article focuses on finding out the motivations of donors when it comes to making donations. Three donors were asked to mention one factor that motivates them.  According to Craig Stewart, President of the Apex/Bruce & Jolene McCaw Family Foundation, the most important factor that he considers is whether the donations make a difference to the organisation that the donation is being made to. According to Ellen Ferguson, a Seattle Philanthropist, the factor that she considers important is whether the organisation connects to the communities and causes that connect with her. She donates to organisations that focus on causes that address her needs. Mike James, a retired broadcast journalist, prefers donating to organisations whose efforts, according to him, are tangibly making a difference in the lives of the people that it serves. The article then compares these answers with a blog written by William Pitcher of the Pitcher Group, where he highlights six reasons why donors give money. According to Pitcher, the impact that the donor’s gift will have on the organisation, the community it serves, the cause it advances,  the accomplishments of the organisation, and the personal connection that the organisation’s mission has are important reasons that donors consider when choosing organisations to donate to.

4. What Encourages Charitable Giving and philanthropy?

Frank Adloff (2009) Ageing and Society, 29(8), 1185–1205

The article basically looks into charity giving amongst the childless donors, and what factors positively reinforces them to transfer their resources to charities. It focuses on childless donors in Germany, and the United States of America. The article discusses about voluntary engagement, charitable giving, and the establishment of philanthropic foundations as three aspects of philanthropic actions.  According to the article, the old, childless donors tend to establish a foundation because it is a means of carrying on their legacies. It is a means of organising their bequests. The article also states that childless donors are positively inclined to transfer their resources to charities by a variety of factors such as educational level, ill-health, social capital, and religiosity.

 By Mohammed Alim

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