Alex Daniels, staff writer for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, reported on the most recent forthcoming study from Stanford University that says men respond to calls-to-action that benefit them rather than others. The Chronicle of Philanthropy is an independent news organization that has been providing advice and serving leaders, fundraisers, grant makers and others involved in the philanthropic enterprise for more than 25 years.
Male Donors Respond Best to Pitches That Stress Self-Interest, Study Says
By Alex Daniels | The Chronicle of Philanthropy | 2/13/15
Attention fundraisers: Stop trying to pull on men’s heartstrings, advises a Stanford University study.
Researchers documented an “empathy gap” between men and women when it comes to charitable giving. To get men to respond to cash appeals, it’s best to tell them how the donation will benefit them rather than others in need, according the authors of a forthcoming article in the journal Social Science Research.
Men Respond to Giving Different Than Women
A naturally lower capacity for empathy in men leads to a gender gap in charitable giving that might have nonprofits questioning just how to engage their male donors. Research conducted at Stanford University found that men reported less willingness to give money or even volunteer time to poverty relief organizations due to a lack of empathy for individuals in those situations.
It’s not that guys are bad people. Perhaps it is the societal role of the protector and provider that men have placed upon them. When it comes to charitable giving, men don’t tend to understand the cause of poverty, but rather place the responsibility of change on the individual seeking it.
Give Them What They Want
So how do you reach out to all those guys and get them to contribute? Stanford’s study revealed that framing the call-to-action with an “aligned self-interest” increased men’s concern for charitable requests. It doesn’t change the way they feel about the issue at hand, but rather how much more likely they are to respond when there is something in it for them if they contribute. Warning: This framework has the opposite effect on women.
Closing the fundraising gender gap could be as simple as offering incentives for crowdfunding volunteers based on tiered donation contribution goals. Or adding raffles, conducting silent auctions and recognizing donors with a live thermometer and shout outs during your next fundraising event.
By developing creative solutions that motivate and answer the question What’s in it for me? you can prevail over the lack of empathy that keeps men from donating freely.