New research from the University of Oregon shows that demonstrating a huge need with statistics – for example, “805 million people go hungry each night” – is a real bummer for donors.
And if it’s a bummer for donors, it will be a bummer for your fundraising appeal.
In the study, one group of participants were given an opportunity to give money to help a little girl who was suffering from starvation.
A second group was told about the same little girl, along with statistics about millions of children also suffering from starvation.
The results were very surprising:
Even though the second group was presented with a greater need (millions of people suffering from starvation), they gave half as much money as the first group. Their conclusion is that people give less when presented with big problems.
Donors Prefer Fundraising Appeals That Feel Good
Why do people who are naturally endowed with rational thinking give less when presented with statistics demonstrating a huge need?
We give because giving feels good. We get a little rush of endorphins every time we help others, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or give money to a starving little girl.
But according to researcher Paul Slovic, that good feeling is contaminated with the bad feeling about millions of starving people:
“If our brain … creates an illusion of non-efficacy, people could be demotivated by thinking, ‘Well, this is such a big problem. Is my donation going to be effective in any way?'”
Statistics, while very compelling, actually compete with the good feelings (endorphins) that giving produces. According to this study, statistics are a real bummer.
Do you use statistics to motivate donors? Are you bumming out your donors?