The primary motivation for philanthropic gifts was a belief in an organization’s mission for 81 percent of U.S. adults who donated in the past year, according to a Gallup survey.

Only 8 percent of respondents cited tax deductions as the major reason for their donations.

Other leading motivations were the desire to make a difference (57 percent), the sense that it was the right thing to do (54 percent), the organization supported a friend or family member (48 percent), and a personal acquaintance asking them to donate (43 percent).

While a purpose / mission that connects with potential donors is vital to an organization’s fundraising efforts, Gallup noted that “the problem is that many charities aren’t inspiring their donors to give. … [as] 5 percent of American donors plan to decrease their giving in the next year. … [which] suggests that billions of lost dollars in donations are at stake.”

“Donors must also believe a charity acts on its purpose. When potential or current donors see a disconnect between what an organization says it does and what it actually does, they are less likely to give to that organization,” the report explained.

When asked about other factors, 61 percent said knowing how donations were being used would make giving more likely.

A positive organizational reputation and having a personal connection to someone who was helped by the organization also influenced 45 percent of respondents.

Having minimal influence on potential donors were data and statistics (7 percent), stories and photos about people the organization helped (5 percent), and TV commercials or online videos (2 percent).

Gallup summarized: “The best-run charities understand their purpose is a promise to the people who benefit from and donate to the organization. Charities build great reputations by delivering that promise to users and donors every single time.

“To maximize donations, charitable organizations must ensure they: present a clear and consistent purpose, create and act on a compelling brand or service promise, [and] communicate consistently.”

The full report is available here.

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