Why and how people make donations: research
What people take into account before making a donation: A study conducted by Better, Google and Kantar
On 21 April, the Better platform (part of Dentsu Russia) hosted an online presentation to discuss joint research carried out with Google and Kantar on how donations are made using the Customer Journey Map. CJM is a map of user interaction with a company or product that highlights the journey from needs awareness to action.
The research was conducted in order to understand what types of people make donations to Russian charities, how and why they do so, and what motivates or prevents them from so doing, said Vladlen Zamorsky, Head of Dentsu Russia’s sustainability team and product manager at Better platform.
The study comprises two elements: Qualitative and quantitative. For the former, the researchers conducted 18 detailed online interviews with Moscow and Krasnoyarsk residents between 18 and 55 years of age.
Those who took part had varying degrees of involvement in charitable work – some donated once or twice while others did so on a regular basis. The latter involved 1,200 people from across Russia who were asked to complete an online questionnaire.
The results of the research were presented by Kantar’s Svetlana Popova and Oleg Yudin.
The study showed that people most often donate out of an emotional impulse. Types of donors were identified based on the respondents’ definition of their own behaviour. A total of six types emerged:
Impulsive: These are people who are not interested in charity but are emotional enough to make donations when faced with an appeal for help. This is the most common category – 48%. These make up one third of all money donated to charity.
Discriminating: These are people who are similar to impulsive types in not being particularly interested in charity but who will examine all the facts before donating. This represents one in five of those surveyed (20%).
Personally affected: These are those who have great respect for charities because of a serious life issue they have had to deal with. Their level of involvement in charity is increasing and represents 11% of all respondents.
Activists: These are those who take part in charitable activities because they reflect their own interests. They don’t just want to help this or that organisation by donating money but also want to help in some other way. There are about 5% of them.
Religion: These are people who believe that any religious person must show compassion and support charities, mainly those associated with saints. There about 5% of them too.
Experts: These are those who understand the charity sector, are interested in the work of charities and believe that support should be an informed decision. There are 12% of them.
The path that donors follow
The longest pathway taken by a donor consists of six stages: “Prior to a donation”; “research” where a person looks into the background of a fundraiser; “decision” when someone chooses a charity or beneficiary; “action” when a person chooses how to donate and how much; “checking” when the donor waits for a response from the charity once their donation has been made and “after making a donation” when a person wants to continue their involvement with the charity.
More than half of respondents (68%) take a very short cut from the “Prior to a donation” stage in which they see the need for help to the “action” stage which is actually making the donation.
“Prior to a donation”
42% of respondents make donations online. 37% of those taking part see an opportunity to donate from online sources, 28% see an appeal on television.
58% of those surveyed said they had made regular donations to charity in the last year. Most donate money to well-known charities such as the Gift of Life Foundation (22%), the Khabensky Foundation (15%), Sberbank Together (8%), the Naked Heart Foundation (8%) and the Faith Foundation (6%). Only 9% of respondents take out regular charity subscriptions.
The most frequent reason given for making donations (32%) is to make the world a better place by doing good for others. At the same time, 37% of respondents are the impulsive donor type. A spontaneous feeling of compassion motivates 22% of those surveyed (27% of them are impulsive types).
7% of respondents want to do the most good with their donation (of which 16% are from the “expert” group).
Only 26% of respondents had searched for information about charities and the areas in need of support before making a donation. Among these, 11% decided they wanted to donate to a specific cause and then found a suitable charity. 68% did not look for any information and donated spontaneously. If donors did look for some background on a charity, they did so most often via online sources.
Most of all, people cared about how the money raised would be spent (33%). 30% were simply looking for information about a fundraising charity with 24% wanting to know how else they could help.
In 42% of cases, people make the decision to donate quickly, i.e. within less than an hour. In only 15% of instances did they consider different charities or organisations. Of these, 44% are “activists”, 32% “experts” and 28% “personally affected”.
For the most part, donors did not consider alternative support options or other charities as they wanted to donate to a particular cause.
66% of those surveyed had considered different ways of donating. 53% had thought about donating online but only 23% had actually done so.
As the researchers point out, many respondents donate to local, regional or large federal foundations that are advertised on television and accept donations sent by text message.
The top three ways to donate are online (23%), by text (19%) and donating items or food (18%). The least common (2%) was donating cash directly to a charity.
Ease and convenience of payment was the most common choice for donating money (61%). 27% considered security of payment to be key while 18% wanted funds to reach the recipient more quickly.
What happened to their donation and how it helped was important for 35% of respondents. 66% of donors were prepared to provide contact details to find out how the money raised was being distributed despite realising the need to protect their own personal data.
However, only 14% of respondents said that a charity had contacted them following their donation. 21% sought information on their own. 65% neither received any information from charities nor looked for it themselves.
57% of respondents would like to be informed if a problem has been successfully resolved and that the money raised was being spent as intended. However, only 13% received such information.
“After making a donation”
Having made a donation, 39% decided to become more involved in the work of the charity and to subscribe to its social networks. Only 7% were motivated to subscribe.
Half of those surveyed said they did not want to subscribe because they were not sure whether they would be able to pay regularly. 33% said that donating was a spontaneous decision while 19% said they had to give some thought prior to every donation.
How to work with these six types
As Zamorsky says, people of the “impulsive” type can become more discerning. However, until that happens, it is important to provide them with an easy way to donate – by text or to put money in a collection box.
For “religious” donors, transitioning to other types is unlikely. We therefore need to work with them based on their fundamental values, i.e. compassion and a desire to make the world a better place.
“Discerning” types can become both “experts” and “activists”. A charity should interact with them as much as possible in the “search” phase, telling them how they can keep in touch.
The “personally affected” donors are afraid of being defrauded so it is better to talk to them more often about security of donations and subscriptions.
The “experts” need to be told clearly how a charity operates and how their donations are used.
In the case of “activists”, a community of donors could be created and so enable them to satisfy their need for personal involvement.
Translated by Neil Hailey