My organisation is struggling to understand that dollar handles refer to what could happen rather than what will happen. They are very literal. Could you offer some guidance? Do you think there is an upper limit for dollar handles e.g. over $1000 for example do we get into major donor territory?

February 20, 2019      Kiki Koutmeridou, Chief Behavioral Scientist, DonorVoice

The way out is to change the language from “$55 buys a school uniform and shoes” to “$55 could buy a school uniform and shoes”. It’s a tiny change however it makes clear that the descriptions are not literal but an example. This change is important for donors too. They need to understand that it’s not a direct donation of that tangible benefit.

In addition to that, you could also stress to the staff that people need to be able to “see” the impact their donation could have. Even if it’s in the imaginary plane (“could have”), the description helps them visualize what they could offer, it increases their sense of perceived impact and makes it more likely for them to donate.

Major donors are the same and different. The same because they also need to see the impact of their donation. Different because they care mostly about their personal impact rather than the charity’s. This means, descriptions of what the amount they givecould buy might be even more important for them. Another recommendation for major donors is to ask them to fund a very tangible, time-limited project e.g. build a school – this way they can monitor its progress and feel a great sense of impact when it’s completed.