Monday, November 22, 2010

Lose the Statistics: Take 2

Last week, I wrote this post about the importance of NOT including statistics in your year-end appeals (and for that matter your year-round appeals) if your goal is to raise more money.

The main point I made is this.  According to research in behavioral economics, statistics actually depress giving by making us go into an analytical vs. empathic state of mind. 

However, I left out an important part of the research.  Please see below.
"A study by researchers Deborah Small, George Lowenstein and Paul Slovic examined the impact difference types of appeals had on charitable giving to a hunger relief organization. 
The first appeal asked donors to help Rokia, a young girl from Mali who was very poor and who faced starvation. 
The second appeal presented facts and statistics about the millions of hungry children facing starvation in African countries. 
The third appeal included BOTH (my emphasis) the personal story and the facts about widespread starvation.

People shown the personal story donated twice as much money overall as those given the facts and figures. 
The third appeal - the combination of the personal story and statistics - worked only slightly better than the facts-only appeal."
Again, we know that statistics alone are BAD, BAD, BAD for fundraising.  Phrases like - "925 million people are going hungry" DO NOT MOVE PEOPLE TO ACTION. 


LOSE THE STATISTICS!  Focus on one story about one individual.  See what happens.



P.S.  For more on behavioral economics and what it means for your fundraising program, check out this FREE e-book, Homer Simpson for Nonprofits: The Truth About What People Really Think and What it Means for Promoting Your Cause by my friends Katya Andresen of Network for Good, and Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies.


Lance Leasure said...

Great topic! Very profound and thought-provoking.

After reading your post today I was thumbing through the Nov/Dec issue of Advancing Philanthropy and read (Research, Pg. 7) that according to the Cygnus Donor Survey, "73% of survey respondents are more likely to favor giving to nonprofits that provide them with measurable results on what has been or is being achieved with donors' contributions."

Do you suppose that this is referring more to donors who don't receive statistical evidence as an element of on-going donor engagement, and not as part of an appeal?

I would love to learn your thoughts on this.

Keep up the great work!

Jocelyn said...

Hi Lance,

Thanks for your comment!

Can you forward a copy of the Cygnus Donor Survey to me at jocelyn_harmon (at) yahoo (dot) com?

I think that donors do want to know where their dollars are going but I think there is a way to tell that story without invoking dull, boring, statistics.