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What motivates people to give to charity?

Achieve your charity’s fundraising targets with this insider info

A jar full of money

Understanding what motivates people to give money to charity is crucial in helping charities to engage with supporters and achieve (sometimes stretching) fundraising targets.

Following research carried out by the Virgin Money Giving team, we reveal some interesting info on the UK’s fundraising habits such as what motivates people to give more, who gives the most and how people feel about being stopped by charities on the street.

Where do people donate?

Charity-giving is big business, especially at Christmas, and shoppers have a message for charities using chuggers (a branded charity representative on the high street – the word fuses ‘charity’ and ‘mugger’) to get donations in – it’s affecting your reputation. Of 2,000 UK shoppers surveyed, 61 percent said being approached by a branded chugger actively puts them off donating to that charity in the future.

That’s why being able to donate through an online fundraising platform, rather than handing cash over on the street, is one of the biggest draws for people donating to charity. As an added bonus it’s easier to pass on as much as you can to charities, as the fundraising platforms – such as Virgin Money Giving – generally allow you to reclaim the Gift Aid too.

Jo Barnett, Executive Director at Virgin Money Giving says:

"Charity-giving habits are changing and our research shows that people will actively avoid hassle on the high street and can be put off from giving altogether when confronted by a chugger. At Virgin Money Giving we continue to see an increase not only in the number of charities signing up to online giving, but also the number of people who are using the service to make donations to their chosen charity."

"Online giving provides donors with a safe and secure method of donating in the knowledge that their money will reach their end cause, Gift Aid will be reclaimed and they won’t be hassled in the future for further payments. There may be a place for responsible street fundraising but digital donations definitely has many benefits that donors are starting to appreciate."

What encourages people to donate?

What does sway people to put their hands in their pockets is fundraisers going the extra mile. Wearing ‘embarrassing’ fancy dress – whether doing a fun run or another personal challenge – meant 66 percent were more likely to donate, while 43 percent of donors were motivated by how hard the challenge was going to be.

We also know that asking people for support face-to-face, rather than by email, improves the likelihood of a donation, and if fundraisers state to potential supporters the difference a specific donation will actually make to those who the charity benefits, then that encourages people to donate too. For example, ‘a £5 donation will provide X, a £10 donation will fund Y,’ and so on.

Who gives the most?

Despite the thrifty stereotype, Scottish people are more likely to specifically put money aside to give to charity than anywhere else in the UK, while Geordies were the most generous in England. Almost 20 percent of Scots specifically piled up change to give to charity at Christmas, for example, while over 15 percent of those in Newcastle did the same. And the East Midlands were least tempted to share the love at Christmas, with 91 percent not giving anything away to charities over the festive season.

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