Research into charitable giving shows that there are three main reasons why people give:
- They feel connected with the cause
- They feel the cause makes a difference
- They feel obliged to give.
When a corporation reviews the rationale for selecting a flagship cause for giving, they look to be able to address the first two issues. When I was in this world, we referred to these as the emotional and the rational appeal.
The emotional appeal is one that makes you empathize with the cause and its aims. Almost anything for kids has emotional appeal, as do causes for pets and mothers. Interestingly, causes aimed at helping fathers or adult males of any kind rank much lower in appeal. Schools clearly earn high marks in this category with programs for school-aged kids.
The rational appeal can best be summed up as “What difference will my donation make?” If you can answer that your $20 donation will feed a child for a month, or provide 5 books for a remote library, the quantified nature of the donation makes it more tangible.
As you might guess, the population is fairly evenly split on whether an emotional or rational appeal is most important. The combination of the two has higher impact with both camps than either on their own.
Too many charities focus on the emotional appeal, because it can be difficult to measure impact, and make that measurement have meaning at the level of individual donations.
This is where schools need to be able to clearly define their fundraising goals – to build a new playground or to add 5 class trips annually. And that’s why Scholmark built that ability into the school profiles. You can measure against those goals to be able to tell corporate sponsors that their donation built 12 indoor arenas, or put uniforms on 1500 school band musicians.