REPORT: What We Know About Donor Generosity—And How To Incentivize It

Download a comprehensive literature review to learn more about how studies in behavioral science and social psychology could increase your fundraising effectiveness.



How can the nonprofit sector encourage donors to engage in patterns of giving that create continuous cycles of generosity? This literature from behavioral and development economist Rachel Binder-Hathaway provides dozens of takeaways from behavioral science and social psychology for you to test to improve your fundraising effectiveness.

Key Takeaways

This literature review explores three main areas of donor generosity and summarizes seminal scientific experiments to reveal ways to help donors build habits of giving, including:

  • Donor engagement and retention techniques
  • Messaging and framing
  • Donor behaviors around grouping and set completion

Did you know that donations that cause the recipient to immediately reach their fundraising goal are, on average, about 200% larger than donations made at a project’s early donation stages? Or that donors who were reminded of a previous donation gave 20% more than those who were weren’t reminded?

Download the full literature review to learn about more fascinating studies in donor generosity like these.

You can also read our companion articles to discover actionable ways to replicate these experiments at your nonprofit to increase your fundraising effectiveness, engage donors, and incentivize them to continue giving to your cause. Here are our summaries on donor engagement and retention techniques, messaging and framing, and donor behaviors around grouping and set completion.


Length: 97 pages
Level: Advanced
Recommendations: This is a robust academic literature review. It refers to more than 150 studies and offers dozens of takeaways for further study or experimentation, along with ideas you can incorporate today to encourage more donations to your nonprofit’s urgent mission.

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