Donors – It’s About Which Relationship?

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Ruth McCambridge

I don’t know about you but I have gotten appeals this year from groups that I never saw doing public fundraising before. Everyone and her mother is out trying to end the year somewhere close to the black ink while many of those who more traditionally ask during this season are observing downturns in their own campaigns. I’ve been surprised at which organizations have done well and which seem to be experiencing a bad year.

A question for the season . . . What makes people give?

And what makes them give more over time?

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There are a lot of answers to the question of course including the time honored: “people give because of relationships.” We usually understand this to mean that it is the relationship between us – the group, or the fundraiser – and them, that creates the motivation to contribute. And that is, of course, important.

But there is also something in the donor’s relationships with others that affect a gift – and that is what this article, Social Influences on Giving, addresses. Featured in the latest issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly, it discusses the way that a potential donor’s relationships with others who benefit from the nonprofit, and to others who also donate, help to determine the size of the gift.

It may sound arcane to some but I find it fascinating. The article is based on a series of studies about fundraising for public radio. Let us know what you think. How do you think about these relationship issues among those who give, and between those who give and those who benefit?

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