Inside the Minds of Donors (Part I): Researching Donors’ Behavior

The questions arising from the last post: Do we know why donors give? Do we know how they choose the recipients? Do we know how to motivate them? motivated me to search for answers. In-depth research/reports that focus on individual donors’ types, motivation, decision-making are rare, practically non-existent in our region. However, there is some interesting – and recent too – research done in USA (Money for Good I and II) on various aspects of donors behaviour that resulted in the reports that explored i.e. How can non-profits more effectively obtain donations from individuals (by Hope Consulting and some of it in partnership with GuideStar). True, the research/reports were made in and for US market, but it seems to me that they nevertheless offers some insights into donors behavior – because people are people everywhere, aren’t they?

Here are some of the insights for individual donors (some of which surprised me a bit):

January 27, 2012

Who are the donors?

After this prolonged holiday break (you know – regular Xmas and then orthodox Xmas, regular New Year and so on… eh, life on the Balkans) I was wondering how to start this year’s posts? What I would like to happen in 2012? Well, for one, I would like to see more local donors giving. So I am starting in 2012 by presenting another piece of last year’s media monitoring research that gives a bit of an insight into local donors community in the region – as it might help us understand how these communities look like now.

January 20, 2012

Ten predictions for philanthropy in the Balkans in 2012

Last week, colleague from London sent an article titled Top 10 predictions for Global Philanthropy in 2012 ( Posted by John Harvey from The Council on Foundations, article gave an insight into The Council on Foundations leading members views on philanthropy developments in 2012.  

Some frantic emailing to colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia followed; thanks to famous Balkan solidarity, my colleagues – amidst hectic end-of-the-year activities and on extremely short notice (another Balkan specialty) – found time and energy to think and write about philanthropy in 2012 and beyond in their countries and the region:  

December 23, 2011

The Funding Network – give and have fun!

Lisa K. 100! Rosalind A. 250! Fred M. 500!…

… and in just half an hour, an amount of over 50,000GBP was raised for five projects through unique giving circle called The Funding Network. I first heard of The Funding Network (TFN) through colleagues based in London; other colleague wrote more about it in a mail ending the message with In summary, I think TFN is fab! Repeatedly, people who I met and were engaged in TFN were saying – it is such fun!

So what exactly is this fab and fun TFN? Described as a marketplace for donors and charities, as the UK’s 1st public, open giving circle, and as the ‘Dragons’ Den’ for charities’, TFN ‘enables individuals to join together to fund social change projects’. And with remarkable results, too: since 2002, TFN raised over 4 million GBP for variety of different causes and over 450 local, national and international projects.

December 14, 2011

Everything is possible, just be persistent

Last week, I read the amazing story of a great joint philanthropic initiative in Kosovo that raised more than 400.000 euro in about 2 1/2 hours. It is an example how people from different sectors can work together and achieve great things.  The fundraising event was for the NGO Mother Theresa from Germany with proceeds going to provide needed medical treatments for sick children in Kosovo.  The event involved both a traditional gala dinner and a simultaneous live televised broadcast of the event on the public broadcaster RTK that solicited donations via SMS.  This event was completely supported by media partners.

December 7, 2011

Philanthropy – alive and kicking!

I know that we (civil society I mean) are in various ways trying to develop philanthropy, but this whole business with media monitoring confirmed what I started to suspect for some time already: philanthropy in the region is alive and kicking and it’s been developed by many, many actors, thank you very much!  

What do I mean by that? Well, media, companies, PR agencies, SMEs, law firms, celebrities, sportspersons, politicians, church, teachers, doctors, local choruses, cafe owners, rich and those not so rich… when you read media reports it seems that everybody is doing something!

Now, one of the questions – for me at least – might be what is civil society place in all that development; but this time, I would just like to invite you to take a quick glance at how philanthropy – developed by so many diverse people and groups – looks like in these four countries?

December 1, 2011

Philanthropy as a broccoli?

Last week I had the opportunity to present some of the findings of media monitoring on philanthropy, on Annual Conference of PR Society of Serbia; the panel was exploring media relation toward CSR and corporate philanthropy. Though findings – some of which some were already shared here – seemed to confirm opinions of corporate PR experts (media are not that interested, they do not provide sufficient information etc.) presence of the “other side” made panel discussion really interesting. Zoran Stanojevic, editor and presenter of Oko Magazin, one of the Serbian Broadcasting Agency (RTS) TV shows with highest ratings shared his opinion:

 ‘Imagine media as a restaurant, where editor is maitre d’ and we, journalists are waiters; public is customer. So, restaurant needs to decide what should be offered –  a steak and potatoes and rich chocolate dessert or maybe a healthy meal such as kale or broccoli? Well, restaurant needs customers and to make money so it will offer the most attractive thing on the menu. Honestly – at least in the region – that would be steak and potatoes. Yes, broccoli is good, broccoli is healthy but… it’s still broccoli!”

November 24, 2011

Story about numbers

In the first post, I’ve mentioned that there is a story behind the huge numbers of reports on philanthropy in the region. As a reminder:

“in app. 2,5 months there were over 1,100 reports on donations, actions and on giving…”

So what is the story about numbers, if we already counted reports?

Well, it turns out that all philanthropy is equal, but some is more equal than other :). That is, some actions/donations have repeated coverage, and number of reports ‘hides’ actual number of actions/donations presented. Chart shows the number of unique actions/donations that were presented in media.

November 17, 2011

So, how media report on philanthropy?

Picking up on Nathan’s very good question about qualitative reporting of media and number of criteria that can be used for benchmarking the media reporting, I thought it might be good to share some of the observations and analysis I’ve done…

Overall, my impression was: lack of information. To show what I mean I’ll share my favorite report that I will quote it in full:

“Changing diabetes” is the name of the humanitarian race on which there were 200 people on Saturday”.

End of story. There is nothing about who organized it, why the race was humanitarian, how the money was raised, how the race will help to change diabetes… I mean, I can understand a lack of space, but really!

Of course, not all reports are like this; and, although – when doing an analysis – I haven’t thought of all Nathan’s criteria (will ask for help next time Nathan :)!), I’ll share what I have. To start with Nathan’s questions:

November 9, 2011

Philanthropy in spotlight… or not?

In the past couple of months I was busy doing media monitoring on philanthropy in several countries of the region. That is, I kept press clipping agencies busy with media monitoring and I was busy trying to make some sense of what I was receiving.

If anyone wonders why did I choose to spend time in this way, I was trying to understand more about standing of the local philanthropy in the region but also lack of success of civil society to receive stable funding from local sources (other than the government that is). So I thought, one of the ways we can get some objective view on philanthropy AND civil society and philanthropy is by following the media. In saying this, I perfectly understand that media often give anything but an objective view on something. However, media do shape public opinion

November 2, 2011