Bart Leonard: Remember the psychology of giving when preparing your fundraising event

Different tactics rest heavily on the fundraising event in question, so consider how best to take advantage

The psychology of donating is central to a fundraising occasion.

Take a crowded room at a fundraising event: asking people for contactless donations doesn’t work because one individual with a contactless unit becomes a bottleneck. But in a people-flowing environment – outside a train station, or among crowds milling around outside a stadium, for example – contactless comes into its own.

This matters, because getting the right donation platform for your charity event is essential, not only for getting the maximum donations from your guests, but also for engaging them in the charity’s purpose.

You need to create an emotional bond, then make it as easy as possible for potential supporters to get involved.

Here are my top tips for getting it right.

Consider keywords Make them relevant to the charity and occasion, and remember that, if you are relying on text donations, audiences should be pre-warned to keep their phones on during the event and to be part of a fundraising effort after the speeches.

Keep a running total Choose a system that allows the host to get to a website on their phone to see how much has been donated so they can announce that at the end of the event. This provides a moment to thank donors, but also to say "but if we had another £200 we could do even better". Use of a screen for the donation instructions and posting the totals raised will also help.

Create an easy URL that people will understand and remember Preferably one related to the charity or event your guests are attending. If you can, seed this in advance on the invitation: a URL that relates to a specific "ask" works best.

If you are hosting a dinner, remember that seated guests have more time and more interest in the cause, so they are more likely to dwell on the page. Use that to your advantage.

Use images and video If there is a speech at this event, these can be really effective if shown from the main stage and aligned with the speaker and call to action. Actions speak louder than words, so show people the work that the charity is doing and why the donations are so needed.

Make contingency plans You must allow for the inevitable technical problems. Have a few contactless machines on hand to enable people to donate when their phones aren’t available.

Although it’s worth bearing all of these tips in mind, the most important thing is to understand your audience and be clear about what you would like them to do. Simplicity and ease are the watchwords. Don’t overcomplicate it with too much jargon or complex instructions.

Be sure to promote the initiative on social media. Not only can you thank donors, but you can also show that fundraising is working (it might also encourage others). We’d also suggest encouraging donors to share what they have done on social media. From a psychological point of view, sharing your good deeds with friends is motivating, so give people every opportunity to do it and raise awareness of your cause at the same time.

Remember that people believe in people first, so it’s important to make sure everyone involved in your fundraising efforts is passionate about the cause and can explain it to others in simple, yet emotional terms.

Bart Leonard is chair of trustees at the National Funding Scheme, sponsor of the Third Sector Digital Innovation Award 2019

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