There is a thorough new report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University entitled “Understanding Donors Motivations.” The sample size in this study was 10000 donors and the data was analyzed by various factors including region of the country, age, marital status, income and education level.
The two hypothesis tested in the study were:
•Motivations for giving to charity vary by region
•Motivations for giving to charity vary by income
The results provide insight and dispel some myths about motivations for giving. The only factors that statistically indicated different motivations were income and education level. Any perceived regional differences were eliminated when adjusted for education and income levels. Underneath these macro findings is a lot of detail that may be helpful to you in shaping your message.
Download the full Understanding Donors Motivations Report
The findings include that on an overall basis the top motivations for giving are:
•Provide for basic needs
•Help Poor help themselves
•Make community better
•Make world better
When you look at motivation by income level there are some subtle but important differences:
•Higher income donors (income greater than $100,000) were significantly more likely to select “making community better” as an important motivation for giving compared to lower income donors (income less than $50,000).
•Lower income donors were significantly more likely than higher or middle-income donors to report “basic needs” and “poor help themselves” as a motivation for giving.
Of course the devil is in the details and this report has a lot of useful information including regional analysis. If you are right now trying to craft just the right words in your year end appeal and are segmenting your list to tweak the message for different constituencies this report is a must read.