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?



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