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The Non-Profit Sector contributes almost $1 trillion to the US economy, representing 5.4% of GDP and generating over 12 million jobs. Nonprofits have become widely recognized as playing a critical role in contemporary society. Fundraisers face increasing challenges, as more social causes compete for donors. “Marketization” seems to be an unstoppable trend, and the need for developing a comprehensive model of giving behavior has never been greater. Donations are shaped by income and information. Effective non-profit organizations rely on a network of support, fiscal levers, and proper communication to obtain funds through well-planned strategies and processes. The question is “what should NGOs say?” Surveying 615 respondents, using their alma mater, the ASPCA, St. Jude’s Hospital for Children, a local homeless shelter, and their church as references, we tested which appeal works best to communicate an NGO’s message to obtain the expected results, considering pride, pity, PR, personal interest, and pleasure as driving motives. The model reflected a predictive ability of 49.7%; all criteria were statistically significant, but the pleasure of giving was the strongest driver, an underlying motivator in the donate decision. Different social causes respond differently to alternate fundraising appeals. Determining which appeal works best is key to success. Ignoring the key drivers in the decision to donate may lead to being both ineffective and inefficient.

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