Does the size of your annual gift show your “real connection” to a charity?

In a recent article published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a study is referenced that purports that gifts of $100 or more are indicative of donor engagement than gifts of less than $100.  The paper was written by Dean Karlan, a Yale economist and founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, a nonprofit that tests anti-poverty programs in the developing world, and Daniel Wood, an economist at Clemson University.  Their study looked at the likelihood of repeat giving when the donors were shown examples of the charity’s impact.  They found that donors at the $100 level or greater were more likely to renew their gift a following year when shown the impact their gift had on people the charity served then those who gave $10, $20, or $50.  They theorized that these secondary gift levels were not made from donors who were truly engaged.  These charitable donation were more visceral reactions that tend to cause short-term action but then are soon forgotten.  So what this study shows is that those engaged with your mission will tend to give more and are more likely to give again when shown that their support has an impact.  As we look to build our donor base, are we thinking of building engagement and seeking gifts that are indicative of that?  Our efforts need to be focused at this place and not rely on impulse gifts.  This way we are truly building a community who will stay with us because they believe in what we do and want to invest.


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