I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a warm feeling today

Are you ready to increase your monthly donations?  Can you wait until two months from now?

It turns out that may be all it takes to dramatically increase your monthly giving upgrades.

The study comes to use from the Swedish charity Diakonia.  They took their normal monthly donation upgrade ask phone calls and split them into two groups.  One received a normal monthly giving upgrade ask; the other asked for a monthly upgrade… in two months. 

If you are wondering whether it worked, the spoiler alert: the name of the paper is Give More Tomorrow.  In fact, the increase in donations was 32% more in the group asked to increase their donations in two months.  Part of this was an increase in average donation (19%) and part was an increase in the frequency of donation rate (11%).

And, looking back, the treatment donors were no more likely to cancel or decrease their monthly donation than the control group. 

Why does this work?  The experiment takes advantage of one of those cognitive biases we are always yammering on about.  In this case, being human means that you prefer immediate benefits and delayed costs.  This is why diets start tomorrow, ever-larger TVs trump retirement savings, and dentists ask you to commit to a time to come back rather than trusting that one day you will feel like a dentist visit.  It’s also why, in a famous experiment with children, the pull of one marshmallow now is strong even when there is a promise of two marshmallows later.

So in this case, you are committing future-you to increase your monthly donation, and present-you gets the warm glow but doesn’t have to feel the pain?  It makes a lot of sense, given Benartzi and Thaler’s experience with a Save More Tomorrow plan that successfully asked employees to commit a portion of their future pay raises to savings.

If this is the type of thing that interests you:

  • We have a free neuro-marketing® course available here that has chock full of helpful tips like this about donor psychology.
  • Save the dates for January 13 and 14, when we’ll be doing a virtual event that highlights donor psychology and how you can implement tactics like these to increase your giving.

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