Stephen Butler of agency Domain suggests that, in comparison to commercial brands, charities are “emotional brands, cause driven” who drive “emotional responses to a desperate situation” (Charity’s sweet example, MW April 8).
There is a danger in accepting this at face value. In our experience, giving at a purely emotional level is rarely sustained. For example, donors to emergency campaigns are often the least likely to give again. Charities have to take into account the rational processes shaping donor response, so they can build successful donor programmes that justify their investment.
Those who give to charities choose causes based on rational as well as emotional reasons. These include: whether or not they, or someone they know, could benefit from the donation; whether the cause is seen to be in need of support because it is not adequately addressed by the state; proof that donations will be used wisely; information on the difference their money will make to its recipients; and whether the giving process is simple and affordable, ie by making a small monthly direct debit payment.
The most successful charities combine emotional and rational factors to shape public opinion and develop sustainable income.
WWAV Rapp Collins