Why do donors give? Insights Into Effective Altruism

Why do donors give? Insights Into Effective Altruism

Much like a financial advisor who helps investors chart a course for their financial needs, successful fundraisers operate in the role of philanthropy advisor. In this role, we help donors chart a course that meets their altruistic goals. A good advisor must fully understand different types of donors and their motivations. By engaging in thorough, thoughtful exploration, we reveal donor motivations and place ourselves in a position to advise and guide donors toward giving options that best align their philanthropic goals with those of our organizations. At STRATA9, we work with philanthropists and foundations to advance their impact. Since COVID, these priorities are bolder, more demanding of outcomes, and contain a heightened sense of urgency. Understanding various donor personas will assist you and your organization when engaging in active fundraising activities. 

Common donor types include:

  1. Cause Donors: Donors who direct their altruism through a particular cause or aim to make a difference for others.  
  2. Impact Donors: Donors who give when they feel the impact of their gift is most maximized. 
  3. Glow Donors: Donors who give based on a desire to experience the "warm glow" of giving that comes from the recognition they receive from others for their generosity.

Fundraisers can employ fairly tried and true methods of assessing the motivations of their Glow and Cause Donors, including clarifying their Values, Inspirations, Hopes, and Experiences. Today’s Impact Donor poses the biggest challenge, especially when you consider High Net Worth individuals. Impact Donors may subscribe to a philosophy developed in the early 2000s called Effective Altruism, or EA. EA has grown into an international movement “using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible.” When considering their giving, an “Effective Altruist” will choose the cause and organization that will help the most people

In addition to your High Net Worth Donors, EA is an approach to philanthropy that may find a place in conversations surrounding your donor-advised fund and corporate giving programs. Effective Altruists themselves would say, "They’re not united by any particular solution to the world’s problems, but by way of thinking. They try to find unusually good ways of helping, such that a given amount of effort goes an unusually long way.”  However, EA has its critics and is definitely not for everyone…which is where YOU come in. As a philanthropic advisor armed with an understanding of both established and emerging concepts of altruism, you can more comfortably navigate difficult donor conversations and thoughtfully guide your donors to giving decisions that align with both their sensibilities and the needs of your organization. 

If you're ready to learn how to take the next steps in your professional fundraising development while also maximizing your organization's resources, email us at info@strata9.com. We will work with you to identify donor motivations and incorporate the philanthropic “why” into your high-level donor discussions. STRATA9 is committed to advancing responsible nonprofit practices and increasing impacts through social impact consulting. Regardless of size, revenue, or geographic location, our team can create a customized plan to support your needs. To learn more about our services, visit STRATA9.com or please email info@strata9.com to ask for a general consultation.