Nonprofit Technology

Tapping Into Social Norms to Encourage Charitable Donation Giving


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Charitable Giving and Social Norms

There’s an indisputable link between charitable giving and the social norms that guide our behavior. People are more likely to engage in giving when others do so as well.

Think of the viral popularity of the ice bucket challenge or the palpable energy you feel when you take part in a charity walk or 5k – everyone is excited and now I am too! Some of you may have even felt the acute excitement of getting caught up in a charity auction. You may have entered the evening planning to bid $50 for a nice fruit basket, who knew that $50 would have turned into $250 after multiple bids and rampant applause?

So, how can grantmakers and grantseekers take advantage of that feeling of getting caught up in the thrill of giving? How can we extend the swell of Giving Tuesday into a year-round movement? An easy way to do this is by enforcing the idea of the “rising popularity of giving.” This concept was widely discussed last year when the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released their report, Encouraging Giving to Women's & Girls' Causes: The Role of Social Norms.

The essence of the findings was this: men were more likely to give to women's and girls’ causes when it was seen as socially normal to do so. Movements are only able to leave the “early adopter phase” as we would say in tech when there appears to be a bandwagon for people to jump on. It all comes down to sharing and communication.

Grantmakers can shift our thinking by widely and enthusiastically sharing information about their grantees and work. And while we know this is already being done within the philanthropic space, it’s time we extend our reach further, engage more with traditional social media, and speak about the rising popularity and growth we’re seeing for a cause. When an important cause is considered to be accepted into the social fold, we begin to see true change at the policy level.

Grantseekers can draw attention to their causes through impact updates that they share with funders, donors and the public. Take the public on a journey with you. Invite them to see your progress and get them excited about what’s to come. When you build awareness and encourage dialogue, likes, and follows with engaging content, your work will become visible, and part of the norm, making giving more likely.

Communication is key, but make sure that your communication capitalizes on trends, and links your work to the impact you’re driving and the causes you care about.

TIP: We’ve equipped Fluxx Grantseeker, our free grants management solution for nonprofits, with an impact update capability that lets grantees instantly share updates with their grantmakers – in real-time rather than during an annual report – and via social media with the public.

To learn more about how you can start sharing your impact through Fluxx Grantseeker, visit our website and create your FREE account today.


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