Should you use fundraising gifts or premiums for online fundraising?


Fundraising gifts are incentives you give to get donations. For example, a fundraising gift might be a coffee mug, a tote bag, or a handmade item that you give to a donor to incentivize them to donate.

This has been hotly debated for 30+ years, and still, people have varying opinions.

Yale professors (Journal of Economic Psychology, 2012) did a study on the impact of gifts on charitable giving and the results will shock you.

Thank you gifts actually reduced charitable donations because the gifts made people feel less charitable.

1. Extrinsic fundraising gifts make people feel selfish

Don’t use fundraising gifts as incentives for charitable giving.

Perhaps it works for businesses and products, but not for the social good world – let donors be charitable and be wary of incentives.

As odd as it may sound, receiving a gift for doing something selfless makes someone feel as if they did it for the gift. And even worse, if the fundraising gift does not reflect their motivations for giving, it increases the feeling of selfishness!

2. Gifts are not a way to begin afresh or recover from a dip in giving

If you want to use your fundraising gift or premium wisely, don’t use them as an incentive for first-time givers or to people who are not actively involved.

You’ll be encouraging a bad habit.

Fundraising gifts don’t draw in first-time donors and neither do they bring back people who have fallen off your radar. They are most appropriate for people who are actively involved.

Using the Stages of Change Model can help you determine what stage your donors are in, and if they are ready to receive a gift.

3. Choose a fundraising gift that reflects the impact of their financial gift

Fundraising gifts must reflect a donor’s charitable motivations for giving.

There’s a demand for authenticity, especially in the social good world! Don’t waste your premiums on branded organization material, but rather on goods that reflect the direct impact of your work.

We call this, impact-driven fundraising gifts.

An example of impact-driven fundraising gifts might be hand-sewn scarves from a family who started a local business as a result of your donor’s micro-finance loan or a personal letter from a child who you sponsored for her education.

Impact-driven fundraising gifts are an all-around win-win because it matches both the donor’s motivations to give and the tangible impact on the one who received it.

Are fundraising gifts a lost art for nonprofits? They are if you’re not mindful of why people give.

Use gifts or premiums, but tweak your approach. Your donors will love it and you’ll be encouraging sustainable giving habits.

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