The right way to suggest a donation for nonprofit fundraising

In an earlier post, we told you specifying an amount results in more donations. Now, experts have found out the effects of an ask that is too high or too low. Their insight can be especially useful for nonprofit fundraising.

The said study was undertaken by Oleg Urminsky, an associate professor of marketing, and Indranil Goswami, then a doctoral candidate at Booth Schhol of Business. October 2016 issue of Journal of Market Research published the study in detail. The researchers undertook eight studies with 11,508 people making 2,423 donation decisions. They wanted to understand the effects of giving a “choice-option” to donors.

The conclusions they drew were:

  • “lower-bar” effect: A low “ask” or suggested donation increases the number of individual contributions
  • “scale-back” effect: A low ask brings down the average donation amounts
  • “default-distraction” effect: Introduction of an ask reduces the effect of positive charity information

“There are two different psychological effects happening simultaneously. If a fundraiser suggests a larger amount, people tend to donate more even if they don’t donate the suggested amount. Where it gets tricky is that not everyone donates. Setting a higher suggested amount could actually discourage people from donating. Some of these people might have participated if a lower amount had been suggested,” explained Urminsky.

He added that at the same time setting a low ask increases participation as it validates or gives permission to make a small contribution. The problem here is people who could have given more, give less. The author suggests making suggestions to any individual or group depending on the expected outcome for the nonprofit fundraising in question.

Interesting insight, right? You can test which one of these two methods work for your organization by creating campaigns on Crowdera, the truly free crowdfunding platform. A couple of campaigns, with one approach in each, can help you arrive at the strategy most suited for your organization and its donors.