April 5, 2020 - Sunday

What Motivates You to Give?

By Arlene Knox, Senior Director of Development, Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation

What Motivates You to GiveI have a pile of envelopes on my desk.  Some are multi-colored, some with pictures of children and families, others with printed messages of hope, and still some with beautiful stamps and graphics. It is the holiday season, and while many are from friends and family, many were mailed to me from nonprofits seeking donations.

Have you received these yet? Maybe you get them year-round. In the next six weeks, non-profits will spend millions of dollars on mailings, and some will supplement these with additional emails and phone calls to seek charitable support from donors. As the end of the year approaches, it is commonly believed that most donors want to receive a tax-deduction before December 31.

But study after study shows that a tax-deduction is one of the least motivating factors as to why donors give to a charitable cause.  A cross-section of national studies shows that donors have a multitude of motivations for giving, and tax benefits are rarely ranked high.

Here is a sampling of some of the top motivations for giving, gleaned from a variety of surveys of donor behavior:

To Honor or memorialize a loved one. Parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors, aunts, uncles, grandparents—we all have at least one person who has helped us along the way, and often times, we want to honor them for the impact they have on our lives.

To respond to a critical need. Hurricanes. House fires. Health emergencies. We are hard-wired as humans to help each other and alleviate suffering, especially when we see vivid images of people in desperate situations.

To help fulfill your life’s goals and passions. As we age, we become more reflective about our life journey, and our time is precious. Giving to charity is an intentional act of caring and concern, and helps us to focus on the values that are truly important.

To connect with others who share your interests and passions. Have you heard the expression “birds of a feather flock together?”  Non-profits are a great way to meet other people who share similar values, and humans like to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

To pay back. We all have varied backgrounds and circumstances that led us to our present situations. Many donors express an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for succeeding in life, however this is defined. Donations are a way of “paying back” those who helped us in the past.

Think about why you give to a charity. Did a friend ask you? Did you see a person in need? Have you volunteered for an organization? When you can determine your real motivations for giving, this will help you in future decision-making about the impact of your gift.

Florida Southwestern State College


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