Research and Technology Push Philanthropy Forward

Researchers continue to learn more about why we give and how it makes us feel. Organisations are also becoming more aware of how the emerging field of philanthropy can inform fundraising initiatives and strategies.

“This has lead fundraising professionals and academics to work more closely together to raise funds more effectively and where possible at little or no cost,” reports Janyce Dalziel, Global Mentor of The Philanthropic CollectionTM, which embraces the value of working together across multiple disciplines.

As we aim to work together for the upliftment of humankind, let’s look at how the field is changing.

Impact, Motivation And Effort Drive Contributions

An excellent way to engage donors is to show them how their actions make a difference. Kids can receive an email telling them who received their Christmas shoe box donation and in which country. In fact, giving to others can improve people’s happiness and when people experience greater happiness through giving, they are likely to donate more.

We also know that people donate more when they are told they must put in effort — or even suffer or sweat — before they can give. Giving up time and effort to sleep out on the streets in the city inspires people to donate more than if they were asked to write a cheque.

Researchers have even asked students to put their hands into ice-cold water for a minute if they wanted to make a donation. Those students gave more than the students who were simply told that they would have to endure pain before they could donate.

Online And Text Giving Is Growing Rapidly

While the Internet does not replace an in-person experience, individuals are using online platforms on a massive scale to generate charity contributions. In the UK alone, 21 million people have raised £1.5 billion for over 13,000 charities and causes using the JustGiving platform since 2001.

Online and text giving are growing at a faster rate than total donations; in other words, we can expect a greater percentage of contributions to be generated from online and text giving in future. What makes online appeals successful though is not that they are on Facebook or online platforms — winning appeals are personal.

Charities Are Harnessing Peer Power

People are more likely to donate if they think their friends and role models are doing it. That’s why non-profit organisations use prominent individuals to promote giving by sending out strong social messages and harnessing peer effects and social media.

The power of groups is increasingly apparent. When employees received messages from colleagues who had already given through an organisation’s Payroll Giving Scheme, they were more likely to participate. When they received messages with pictures of the existing donors, the rate of enrolment doubled.

Employees are more likely to give a day of their salary to charity when they receive personalised emails from their CEO rather than generic emails requesting them to donate and increase donations. When researchers tried this, they tripled charitable donation rates.

Other Types Of Giving Could Boost Charity Donations

Online and social giving are top of mind, but many people avoid thinking about bequest giving – pledges that people make in their last will and testaments. In the US, 8% of charities’ voluntary income and, in the UK, 20% of charity income comes from bequest giving.

Bequest giving presents huge potential for charities. Research conducted in a legal call centre has shown that prompting people to give to charity can double the number of legacy donors and the size of donations. Non-profit organisations can work with legal call centres and will writers to ask people to leave money to their preferred charities.

As organisations launch these types of initiatives, and apply research and lessons learnt, the charity sector will continue to flourish.

– By The Philanthropic Collection –


The Philanthropic Collection™ is a boutique social enterprise,
where we tailor haute-couture brands for philanthropy.


Our appliqué is made up of global leaders, influencers and forecasters,
all creating conscious capital for humanity.

  • A Brief Introduction to the Science of Fundraising – View Online
  • Online Fundraising – the Perfect Ask? – View Online
  • Professionals are Applying Behavioural Insights to Charitable Giving – View Online
  • Can Simple Prompts Increase Bequest Giving? Field Evidence from a Legal Call Centre – View Online