As a team we are pioneering the development of a field of experimental research which we’re calling Philanthropic Psychology. The aim of this new field is to grow philanthropy, but to grow it by engineering more value for donors in the communications we send them. Our early results have yielded increases in the amounts donated by between 10 and 40% simply by the words used in appeals.
For too long, giving in many western countries has been static, frozen at a historic percentage of GDP. In the United States, for example, giving has been a stubborn 2% of household income since records first began over 40 years ago. We believe it is time to change this – and have been working with clients to build giving both to their organization and to other causes in society.
The work is new, innovative and based on conducting experiments with real fundraising solicitations. We’ve been engaged to design telephone scripts, direct mail solicitations, emails and even ‘on-air’ appeals.
Philanthropic psychology is one of those rare academic treasures that both givers and fundraisers should be exposed to, because through this understanding, they can deepen their understanding of what giving means for a donor and how the ‘warm glow’ that donors feel can be enhanced. In our view this new approach can make both giving and fundraising a more enriching experience and thus more self-sustainable.
If you’re interested in using the latest ideas from philanthropic psychology to inform your fundraising practice, please let us know. We’d be delighted to hear from you. We can help you set up tests to measure the success of our ideas and push the boundaries of your professional practice. We’ve worked with clients on both sides of the Atlantic including the RSPCA, National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), United Christian Broadcasters (UCB), Pell and Bales and Cancer Research UK.