September 20, 2014
Happier, Healthier and More Attractive Too

And the studies prove it.


According to the University of Chicago's General Social Survey those that give to charity are 43% more likely to say they are "very happy" than those that don't give.


Stanford University and Buck Institute for Research on Aging researchers studied almost 2,000 older Americans from 1990 to 1999. They learned that the "dedicated volunteers" in the group were 56% more likely to have lived through the end of the study than nonvolunteers in identical health.


A 2009 study conducted by British and Dutch researchers focused on the reactions of female college students to three videos featuring the same handsome actor. In one video the man gives abundantly to a beggar. In another he gives just a little. The man gives nothing in the third video. You guessed it. The more the man gave the more handsome he appeared to the women in the study.'s good for you.


What's even better? Monthly giving.


MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving, she'll make your givers happier, healthier and more attractive too.

October 20, 2014
The Double Faith Marker

It's long understood that those who claim a religious affiliation are more likely to give to charities than those who aren't religious.


A recent study by Jumpstart, a nonprofit research group, and Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy confirmed that religious charity giving marker. And, it identified a second even higher probability marker among the religious.


75% of those who stated they often attend faith services gave to congregations and 60% gave to causes either religious or non-religious. In comparison, less than half of those who said they don't regularly go to religious services gave to charities.


So, for the greatest predictability of propensity to give, it's not just faith. It's faith and consistent faith engagement.


Call it the double faith marker.


Predictable monthly giving prospects...MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving, says "Amen" to that.

July 15, 2014
Social Proof is No Spoof
Some people believe that other people’s behavior has little influence on their own.
As social psychology research has repeatedly shown, the opposite is true.
In their bestseller, Yes, authors Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini reference multiple studies centered on the concept of social proof.
One such study conducted by the famous Stanley Milgram and his colleagues is telling, “…an assistant of the researchers stopped on a busy New York City sidewalk and gazed skyward for sixty seconds. Most passersby simply walked around the man without even glancing to see what he was looking at. However, when the researchers added four other men to that group of sky gazers, the number of passersby who joined them more than quadrupled.”
Fundraisers make note.
Social proof is no spoof.
August 15, 2013
Bumper Sticker Theory
Ever find yourself stopped in traffic behind a car that is plastered with bumper stickers?
You may be like me. If so, you go into a rapid eye movement drill in an attempt to read as many of them as possible before the light turns green.
Now… even a few minutes later, consider, what you remember.
A  bit fuzzy? You may be drawing a blank…me too.
Now, consider this. The car in front of you has a single sticker centered on the back bumper.
It reads: “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job”
You remember. That’s the bumper sticker theory.
August 20, 2014
Props and Cues
What makes it easier to do the right thing in the best way at the right time?
Props and cues do.
On the stage, at work and in virtually every facet of our lives, we use them to stay on track.
In their absence we tend to act inconsistently, often making things up as we go along. Sometimes impromptu is good enough, but when it’s not, we want our props and cues.
For nonprofit development staff every ask is an important one.
That’s why every MEG (Monthly Engaged Giving) program includes customized screenplays with specific props and cues like reciprocal welcome gifts, pledge forms, and punchy, memorable calls to action to assist and guide the person making the ask.
So when MEG says to mind your P’s and Cues, she’s not just saying, she’s doing.
August 15, 2014
Loss Aversion
Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, psychology researchers, first tested and documented the idea that people are more motivated to avoid a loss than they are to make a gain.
Why is this important intelligence for fundraisers?
It suggests that the traditional pitch focused on what donors gain from giving to an organization may not be the most persuasive approach.
Say your nonprofit is launching a monthly engaged giving program and wants to build momentum by signing up the first 150 members. You call them the Founding 150.
The traditional pitch in this situation would likely sound something like this, "Be a founding member of something special, join the Founding 150, a select group of monthly supporters."
Alternatively, employing your newly learned persuasion intelligence, your call to action might something like this, “There’s only one Founding 150. Don’t miss this one time opportunity to be a founding member.”
Loss aversion, it’s fundraising intelligence for your gain.
July 15, 2013
The Sawyer Effect
Named for the scene in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer where Tom and friends paint Aunt Polly’s fence, Daniel Pink, the author of Drive, defines the Sawyer Effect as “Practices that either turn play into work or work into play.”
Tom’s brilliant inspiration is in projecting the task of whitewashing the fence to his friends as a fabulous privilege or as Pink describes it, “a source of intrinsic motivation”.
Sawyer even goes so far as to initially refuse his friend Ben’s request to “try a few strokes”. He relents only when Ben gives him his apple for the opportunity.
In nonprofit fundraising circles, there’s frequent discussion of how best to engage (secure and engross) donors. With a national nonprofit average for year over year donor retention of less than 50% it’s clear that making enduring connections with donors is a real challenge.
Social psychology research has repeatedly shown that external motivation may spark short-term action, but it rarely leads to long-term consistency and success.
Conversely, intrinsic motivation, while often more difficult to identify and tap, has repeatedly been proven to drive lasting commitments and behaviors.
Monthly givers and/or the most loyal volunteers are prototypical examples of people acting based on intrinsic motivation. They could opt to discontinue their participation at any time, but, most often, they freely choose to continue.
How to find and nurture those people?
That’s a big part of what MEG, Monthly Engaged Giving, is about.
Twain’s wisdom is alive and well.
July 05, 2013
Meal Makers
If it weren’t for them, many charitable organizations simply would not exist.
Intimately involved, often executing key service processes and frequently coming in contact with an org’s clients and donors, volunteers are among the most engaged players in a nonprofit’s mission.
Volunteers have long been acknowledged by fundraisers to be one of the best, largely untapped, pools of prospective donors. Sure it’s easy enough to add them to direct mail and e-mail lists, and invite them to events, but, until now, there hasn’t been a systematic, easy rationale and approach to make in-person asks of them.
The bite size and easy sign-up packaged nature of monthly engaged giving makes it a good fit for volunteers. And, once the right processes and messages are prepared, nonprofits can vary the monthly giving pitch for different volunteer sub groups, and scale to make asks of as many volunteers as they have.
The potential can be staggering.
In 2012, more than 16,000 volunteers came to sort and box food at the St. Louis Area Foodbank facility. That’s the equivalent of an additional twenty-one full time employees.
Such a significant and impactful group, the foodbank’s new monthly engaged giving (MEG) program was aptly named to honor their service and potential.
Meal Makers they are. Many, faithful monthly givers they will become.
July 05, 2013
Majority Matching Motivation
The Chronicle of Philanthropy continues to include frequent mention of monthly giving.
Since its’ substantive March 14, 2013 article titled, “Monthly Giving Can Add Up to Robust and Steady Revenue for Charities”, The Chronicle has continued to highlight monthly giving including special reference in its March 28, 2013 article, “Peer Pressure Makes Donors Give More Than Planned” (Raymund Flandez) and in The Chronicle’s June 27, 2013 story, “The Big Boom in Online Giving” (Emma Carew Grovum and Raymund Flandez).
This may be an indication of monthly giving’s ascension to enduring fundraising prominence, but that’s not what this blog is about.
Flandez’s “Peer Pressure Makes Donors Give More Than Planned” reviews a fascinating fundraising behavior study.
Global Giving, a charity Web site, teamed with Harvard and Duke behavioral economists to study the question, “What would make people give more than they initially intended?”
“At first, GlobalGiving simply asked donors to give more or said it would match a donor’s money if he or she gave every month. But after many rounds of testing, it found what worked best: telling them how many other people were also planning to step up their donations to once a month and promising a matching gift if a lot of people gave that way regularly.”
In determining what percentage definition of the total number of givers would best motivate the desired result “Researchers examined various approaches…” and “… ’75 percent’ proved to be the one that pushed people to give monthly.”
Bottom line, matching gifts are a compelling way to drive monthly giving commitments, especially when majority participation, and specifically 75%, are the benchmark for doing so.
Call it majority matching motivation.
July 15, 2013
Enough Already

Choices are at every turn. It’s a blessing and a curse in our prosperous world.


On one hand it’s helpful to have choices. With that, it can be overwhelming to differentiate between multitudes of options.


Behavioral scientists, Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper tackled this choice dilemma through research that they conducted in a high-end grocery store. They set up a display with a variety of jams all made by the same manufacturer. During the study, either six or twenty four flavors were displayed and sold at any given time.


The results were a startling picture of contrast. Among those who approached the twenty four flavor display just 3 percent made a purchase. A whopping 30 percent of those who approached the six flavor display made a purchase.


What’s the takeaway?


Giving consumers too many product options or giving donors too many giving choices is likely to put a damper on results.


Yes, variety is the spice of life, but there’s clearly a time to draw the line and say, “Enough already!”

May 30, 2013
Pixar's Practically Perfect Pitch
Arguably the greatest story teller and story seller of our time is Pixar Animation Studies.
Since 1995 Pixar has created thirteen films with total gross proceeds of $7.5 billion plus. Six of them won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles are three of their most widely celebrated movies.
So what can fundraisers learn from Pixar?
You may be surprised to know that Pixar has a “story formula” of sorts. Emma Coats, a story artist who previously worked at the studio, suggests that every Pixar movie shares the same narrative structure…and, thanks to Coats, it’s publicly available:
Once upon a time ____________________________. Every day, _______________. One day ________________________________. Because of that, _____________________________. Until finally _____________________.
Call it Pixar’s practically perfect pitch.
Check it out along with Coats’ other story rules at:
Like Pixar’s acclaimed films, the best monthly giving programs tell a great story that sells.
What’s your pitch?
May 29, 2013
Energizer Bunnies
They just keep giving and giving and giving and giving.
And, it turns out that they keep giving even after the batteries are gone.
There are a number of fascinating insights about monthly giving in the March 10, 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy article titled, “Monthly Giving Can Add Up to Robust and Steady Revenue for Charities”
One that is particularly intriguing is the anecdotal description of monthly giving’s long-term impact on planned giving.
“…about two thirds of the donors that have made pledges to her organization in their wills are monthly donors.”  (See page 2, just above the sub-header “Long-term Loyalty”)
It’s commonly known that monthly givers are famously loyal, long-term donors with a typical giving tenure of five plus years. But who would expect that their generosity continues beyond the grave?
Energizer bunnies, they are.

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