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Friday, 3 July 2020


TheGivingMachine: What are charities actually selling?

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Richard Morris CEO TheGivingMachine writes

My team and I have been running a series of training webinars for the causes TheGivingMachine and GivingLottery work with. Before getting into how they actually work and how they can benefit good causes everywhere, we spend a bit of time talking about the mindset of causes and their prospective supporters. I thought this would be interesting to share as it has received good reviews so far.

Whenever something changes hands like money or time, there is a transaction. In a transaction, there is usually a buyer and a seller. In the usual fundraising scenario, we have a cause that is raising cash and is the seller. The predominant measure of success is the amount of cash raised and many fundraisers have specific amounts in their targets.

But what do prospective supporters want? They are the buyers in this transaction – one where they don’t usually get anything tangible. For this part, let’s look at a couple of interesting social findings that have been repeated over the years.

Firstly, the no.1 thing people want more of in their lives is happiness. This has been shown by a number of different surveys carried out in different parts of the world. Ikigai is an amazing Japanese philosophy that presents the paths to the state of happiness or Ikigai and is well worth exploring. So people want happiness but what are the things that make people happy?

That leads onto a second key finding is that making a difference to others is a common factor that crops up on pretty much every list of things that makes people happy across the globe. So of course in a global crisis right now, stories of helping others are massive news and make us all feel so much better – it’s part of our human experience. Even more interesting is that studies have also shown, it is not the amount donated but the act of giving in itself that is important to achieve happiness.

Let’s go back to the original transaction model. Causes may have a measure of the financial amount raised as a measure of success and supporters might have the difference they have made as a measure of success to help them feel happy. And there we have the opportunity and the risk at the same time.

The opportunities are massive:

  • Just by liking and sharing your social media posts, people could feel happy that they are making a difference to the awareness raised and potential new supporters to your cause. Do you thank them for that and help them feel happy about the difference they have made?
  • Just by shopping online and supporting you and telling others, they are making a difference to your cause. It may only be a few pence or quite a large sum. Either way, do you thank them for that and help them feel happy for the difference they have made?
  • By donating, playing the GivingLottery, fundraising for you they are making a difference to your cause… and so on.

As charities, we are all in the business of our specific social purposes and to enable people to enjoy some happiness in their lives because by supporting us, they are making a massive positive difference to the world around them in whatever way they choose to support our causes. The opportunity is to maximise the way they can help and to make sure that they all know what a positive difference.

Thanks for being the brilliant people you are and stay safe…

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