By Lisa Wolf, SVP of Client Experience, at Westfall Gold

As we close out 2022, we’ve been looking at the key factors that motivate high-net worth donors to give transformational gifts.

Each year, we analyze the results of the surveys that we do after each of our donor experiences. In 2022, we partnered with non-profits to host 43 events that were attended by more than 1800 high-net worth families. Over 50% of them completed a survey. Those results are correlated to our measure of generosity which is a percentage of a donor’s estimated giving capacity realized in a gift at the event.

The factors that we evaluate about the donor experiences that correlate to giving include:

  • Did the event meet or exceed your expectations?
  • Did you gain a deep understanding of the organization?
  • Did the event strengthen your trust in the organization?
  • Did you enjoy developing relationships at the event?
  • Did the event inspire you?

In 2022, donor motivations have shifted just a bit. The top three factors are:

  • Inspiration
  • Strengthened trust
  • Deep understanding of the organization

In the previous year, the donor’s deep understanding of the organization had the strongest correlation to generosity. While having a deep understanding of the organization still ranks in the top three factors, this year, high-net worth givers rated inspiration as the most important. It’s no real surprise after the year we’ve been through that donors are seeking inspiration.  Inspiration was followed closely by “my trust was strengthened” by this event and having a deep understanding of the case.

Psychologists Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot who study inspiration have noted: “The heights of human motivation spring from the beauty and goodness that precede us and awaken us to better possibilities.” This moment of clarity is often vivid, and can take the form of a grand vision, or a “seeing” of something one has not seen before (but that was probably always there). According to Thrash and Elliot, inspiration involves both being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration.

Creating an experience or opportunity for donors to “see” an organization’s grand vision opens the door for them to not only be inspired but for them to act on that inspiration. Unlocking generosity can be accomplished by moving the donor past the transactional nature of making a gift and instead toward inspiring them with a vision that leads to a transformational gift.

At Westfall Gold, we talk about the three part case for support: the intellectual, emotional and transformational cases. While all of these play a role in moving the donor to give an extraordinary gift, it’s the transformational case that does the heavy lifting.

The story of one is key to building the transformational case. How has one individual’s life been radically changed by the work of an organization? What has been the impact of that change? The case can be shared in written or spoken word, but it really comes to life on video. Hearing from the person whose life has been impacted takes the donor on a more personal and moving journey.

When a donor can see how their gift transforms one person’s  life, they now have the tangible evidence, and likely that moment of clarity, to see better possibilities for both an individual and our world. And that’s where inspiration begins. Couple that with a strengthened trust in the work of the organization and a deep understanding of mission and vision and you have a powerful motivation for unlocking extraordinary generosity.

Westfall Gold is a major donor fundraising agency whose extraordinary approach to donor experiences moves high-net worth givers from transactional to transformational giving, bonds them to your vision, and turns supporters into ambassadors.