Funding support for the third sector

Psychology of Funding

“MINDSPACE” below are some suggestions from my psychology of funding training courses on how you can use psychology to strengthen funding applications and requests to donors


Messenger – we are heavily influenced by who communicates a message to us; therefore, we want to be liked and trusted by the reader o   Can you associate with any ‘named’ people who the giver will know/ see as peers or respect?

o   Have you been able to make any key points rhyme

o   When introducing the charity have you explained at an individual level why you are involved?

o   Are you clear about the organisation/ charities purpose and aims?

o   Have you included awards/ quality marks to demonstrate trustworthiness?

o   Include specific statistics to back up any claims


Incentives – we respond to how questions are posed; what will be gained and what will be lost o   We are loss averse; therefore, have you framed your benefits in a positive way – e.g. numbers saved rather than numbers lost if no action?

o   Can you make anything FREE?

o   What added value do you bring? – we value what we have more than others will

o   Does your application create a sense of urgency?


Norms – we seek guidance from the behaviour of others and want to fit in o   Tell the reader that ‘People like you’ have also funded us

o   Show match funding to demonstrate other also support what you are doing

o   Be very careful with averages! Those giving more than the average may then give less

o   How are you connecting with the donor/funder – what do you have in common; tell them


Defaults – we like things to be easy – both making decisions and taking action o   How have you made it easy for the person to take action – prefilled forms, easy to find webpage, who to ask about more information

o   Have you made it easy for information to be understood?

o   Have you given a reason for the reader to believe you? (Power of ‘because’)

o   Remember our brain will fill in information based upon the little information it is provided with what it expects to see


Salience – we like things that are novel and relevant to us o   Have you spoken to the reader – ‘you’ and made it personal to them

o   Include a photo – beneficiaries or of the writer (make eye contact in photos)

o   What have you done to put reader in a good mood? – be upbeat in your letter – happy people respond more positively

o   We respond best to easy to remember and say words – it your project title easy to remember





Priming – we are heavily influenced by sub conscious cues, these can be irrelevant to the decision being made o   Aim high; but also reasonable

o   Include high amounts at the start of sponsorship forms

o   Try increasing the minimum donation rate box to see if it increases donations (but also include ‘other amount’)

o   Let people know what you expect to raise – use words that encourage giving larger amounts such as generous

o   We can be put off by asking for money (or thinking about money) too early; get people on board with the project first


Affect – Emotions shape our actions o   Does the application engage with people’s emotions? For instance, ask the reader to imagine how the ‘victim’ would feel

o   Beware of making the reader feel guilty!

o   Do you use descriptive language to really help reader visualise your work?


Commitments – we like to be consistent with public commitments o   Include an opening statement that the reader will agree with

o   Don’t forget to remind the person / funder if they have supported you in the past

o   If you want to get people to turn up at an event; make them give a commitment, even if it to let you know they can’t make it. Or say ‘ so we can count on your support on the day’   and wait for them to answer.


Ego – We like to feel good about ourselves o   How will supporting your cause make the donor feel good?

o   Have you identified the victim and used named people in case studies?

o   Is your solution going to make a real impact? Is the scale of the request proportional to the problem?



No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.

Sign up for Funding Eye Newsletter

* = required field