What does it take to change Americans’ giving behavior? To encourage greater, more frequent, and more thoughtful giving?
Since 2010, a forward-thinking set of philanthropic sector leaders has explored these questions with the Money for Good ($FG) research series. $FG employs best practice customer insights research from the private sector to understand the drivers of American giving behavior, and identify strategic recommendations to strengthen giving.
Over the last two years, three charities partnered with the author of the research series, Camber Collective, to test whether employing the recommendations from the $FG 2015 report could indeed change donor behavior. The partners each play a different role in the charitable sector:
- Charity Navigator is a trusted online source for charity ratings and charitable giving
- Nurse Family Partnership is a programmatic organization that provides evidence-based interventions and support to first time mothers
- Seattle Foundation is a traditional community foundation which helps match donor interests with effective charities
The charities worked with Camber to design trials testing whether applying the $FG results in their donor engagement strategies and programs could change how their donors engage. What they found:
- $FG insights did in fact drive changes in donor behavior where they were integrated into the donor experience. In the Nurse Family Partnership trial, prospective donors were 35% more likely to click on a $FG-infused ad than on a control ad; for one segment, that difference was 85%. Users of the Charity Navigator platform were 16% more likely to access giving resource pages, and 17% more likely to click on the “Donate” button on a charity rating page.
- The effect narrowed where the $FG elements were not fully infused through the donor experience. In the Charity Navigator example, the increases in initial donor engagement dropped off somewhat in the donation page, in which $FG was not fully integrated. However, there was still a benefit: the $FG audience gave 4.7% more, on average, than the control audience.
- Driving a step change in Americans’ giving behavior will likely require a sector-wide strategy. The trials suggest that organizations implementing the $FG insights can achieve impacts with their targeted donors. Establishing new, broader social norms for giving will likely take coordinated work by the sector as a whole – applying customer insights to develop a behavior change strategy for target donor segments across a broad set of channels, platforms, and organizations. Funders and philanthropic leaders are the natural choice to take the lead on such bold plays to drive societal change.
What the charities did, how the trials were evaluated, and lessons learned for charities, giving platforms, funders, and philanthropic sector leaders are shared in the $FG Real World Trials report.
This effort was supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with the New Venture Fund. The $FG 2015 research was generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the FB Heron Foundation.