Are people altruistic, or are they greedy? Actually, they’re both. People want to give more, but just not yet. That’s why asking people to give more to charities in the future is a way to increase giving. As it turns out, people don’t like to experience what they consider a decrease in what they are earning. That’s why, if you ask someone to give to a charity today, they might not be interested in the idea. For a person to give today, they would have less of what they currently have, but if you ask them to give when they would have more, then they are more likely to give a portion of what they will have in the future. So, why else are people reluctant to give charitable contributions? Also, how do we encourage people to give more?
There are a couple of common human traits that inhibit people from giving charitable gifts. As mentioned earlier, people don’t like feeling like they are losing something. Another reason is that people tend to be procrastinators. Also, people tend to be focused on the present and the near future, but not on the distant future. People also have self-control problems.
With this knowledge about human tendencies, how can they be worked with to give more to charity? You can avoid putting people in the position in which they will have feelings of loss if you ask people to give when they will have more. Why does this work? The giving is in the future, so it’s not asking them to do it now. But it also allows them to avoid feelings of loss in their income. If you ask people to give when they have just received a raise, it will feel like a double-win instead of a loss. Not only will they experience an increase in wages at that later date, but they can also feel good about being a charitable person.
An employer asking an employee to give to a charitable organization at a later date is one context in which asking for charitable donations would work. There are, however, other contexts in which asking for charitable gifts can work. For instance, you can also harness the same human tendencies in an organization such as church. Many churches give to outside charitable organizations. By working with families on a time that would make sense for them, a church can grow funds for charitable organizations.