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What motivates people to support your fundraising cause?

What is going through the minds of people who are willing to give money and support your cause? 

Many fundraisers assume that people give money for specific causes for “nothing”, but this is rarely the case.  Studies have shown that people who are likely to give money to causes generally do so because they feel they get some “value” from giving.  

So what value do they receive? People support causes for a number of reasons.

To alleviate a fear

Many people give because they fear the eventually of a specific event or situation.  Some people, for example, are afraid that women are not treated well enough and that violence against women may affect their home.  Others fear becoming homeless or losing their jobs, and give to food banks to ensure that a social support system exists for those who have less money.

While you never want to prey upon people’s fears or exaggerate their fears, knowing that people react in this way can help you target your fundraising efforts, and can help you understand why some donors give generously.

To make a contribution

Many people feel that by giving to a fundraiser they are making a valuable contribution to society.  For example, not-for-profits do the work that many working people simply do not have the time or the resources to do themselves.  Donors can contribute to this work through volunteering or through cash donations.  This is certainly a “giving value” you will want to stress in order to increase donations if this applies to your cause. 

You may want to emphasise how donor money will be used to a make a real difference in people’s lives, for example, and explain to contributors how their support of your not-for-profit is a contribution to society as a whole.

Tax deductions

The fact that donations to registered charities can be tax-deductible is often an extra bonus for many donors.  No one likes to pay more tax than they absolutely have to!  For this reason, if you are a Deductible Gift Recipient you will want to tell your donors that their gifts can be tax deductible, and ensure they get the receipts they need to claim their deduction.

A chance to win

Charitable lotteries are becoming more and more popular.  These events not only attract donors who support a specific cause, but also people who simply wish to win a nice prize. They like the benefit of helping a charity while getting a chance to win. If you are running a lottery or raffle, you will want to emphasise to your donors their good chances of winning as well as the contribution they are making to society.

Emotional benefit

If you look at most successful fundraising campaigns, they generally appeal to the emotions rather than just the rational mind.  Not-for-profits that raise money for international relief, for example, often show emotionally charged pictures of people who do not have the basics in life.  Animal shelters often show saddening pictures of pets that have been abandoned.  The idea is not to manipulate your donors, but rather to make sure that their emotions as well as their intellect understand the importance of your group’s cause.  It’s likely that you created or volunteer in your not-for-profit because you think that your group’s cause is an important one.  You need to communicate to your donors why the cause is important on an emotional level so that they feel the importance of your not-for-profit, not just understand it.


For a few people, donations are made in order to have a plaque or a statue dedicated to them.  Some individuals like to be known as philanthropists.  In many cases, these individuals are willing to offer larger sums of money in exchange for recognition of their gifts.


Some people take part in fundraising because they want the products or service a not-for-profit is offering through their fundraising efforts.  If you hold a book sale to raise money, for example, you can expect book lovers to show up, whether they want to support your not-for-profit specifically or not.  If you have useful goods or services you are offering as part of your fundraising, you will want to emphasise this to potential donors. 

Looking for a useful product fundraiser? Check out our sock fundraising options!