In The Spirit of Sandy Relief, and Holiday Giving, Here is One Of The Most Overlooked Factors In How People Choose Who To Donate To?

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Many of you may not know this, but I have extensive background and experience in the fundraising world. Over the years, and spanning millions of dollars in donations generated, I have learned a few important details about what drives people to donate to a specific organization over many others. The answer may just surprise you, It certainly surprised me.

Before we get to probably the single most overlooked factor in driving donations, here is a story that Dan Kennedy relates about investigating his own behavior and motivations to making donations. Dan goes on to say that every morning he would grab breakfast at a local cafe and as he was paying and leaving, he always put his spare change into one of the charity boxes near the register. One day he noticed that, without even thinking about it, every single time he put money into one of the charity boxes, he always put it into the same box. So, he decided to examine all the boxes and his motivations to try to uncover why he chose the charity he did. He was as surprised as I was. The first thought that came to his mind was, perhaps it is one of the causes I care more about than others. When examining the three boxes, they were all good causes that he had no loyalty to over any other, so it couldn’t be that. He than wondered if perhaps it was the closest box to him when he paid, but he actually noticed it was the one further away. No reason to think that was the factor. Perhaps he chose based on the shape of the box, maybe one had a label or shape that stood out and caught his eye, but again the box he always chose was very plain and the other two boxes stood out more… He was perplexed so he decided to examine them closer to see what the one box he chose had that all the other boxes didn’t. You know what he discovered? He always chose the charity box that had the biggest slot to put his money into. In other words, in a split second, with barely the blink of an eye, his subconscious mind chose for him The Easiest Box To Put The Money Into. The One Box that Required Less Than A Split Second of Time and Energy Than The Other choices. 

What an interesting insight. In fact, I wonder if his choice went beyond the point of even giving to charity, but it was an easier (and defensible) choice to put his change into than even his pocket. Could you imagine, Such a small difference making such a huge difference?

The truth is, this is nothing new. When I was doing marketing for car donations, we noticed that when we promoted our wonderful causes we supported, it barely had any impact on response. You want to know what message got the biggest response? Free Same Day Towing. It wasn’t about tax deductions and it wasn’t about the cause, it was about who will get that junk car out of my driveway as quickly as possible.

When I was watching the sandy relief concert 12.12.12 last night, I noticed that they made it so easy to donate. You can just Shazam any song and it would open on your phone a click to call feature to donate. You could text to donate. The easier you make it for people to help the more likely they are to help.

Even if you aren’t raising money, but you are selling a product or service, remember, if it’s easier to buy from someone else, you might just lose the sale. People want the easy way out, the magic pill, the solution that lets them forget about it as quickly as possible. So, are you putting obstacles in your customers way? Are you making it harder for them to buy from you? Remember, just like the Gazelle doesn’t need to outrun the lion, he just needs to outrun the slowest gazzelle. Same thing for your business. All you need to do is make it easier to buy from you than competitors.

Happy Holidays.

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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