Charity Support, Advice, Impact Measurement, Philanthropy Impact – NPC

What kind of donor are you?

By Jessica Nicholls 14 March 2013

Much has been made of the new Pope Francis’ personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. In Buenos Aires, the Jesuit intellectual lived in a small apartment, travelled by bus and cooked his own meals. On the day he was elected, he persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor. So, on the day of our brand new report, Money for Good UK, we can’t help but ask ourselves what donor type is Pope Francis?

In Money for Good UK, we identify seven donor segments based on donors’ motivations and attitudes. For some, belief in the cause is a strong motivating factor; for others, personal relationships exert a powerful pull. Some give from a sense of duty, while others feel their position or status in society commands it.

We’ve created a flowchart to help you work out what kind of donor you are. It’s not scientific, but it’s loosely based on our Money for Good UK findings, and aims to highlight the major driving factors behind giving decisions, rather than offer a comprehensive assessment of all your motives! We’d love to hear what you think.


Donor case studies

Margaret, 76, retired, Worcester

‘I have been supporting a handful of charities for a very long time now: I started giving to Oxfam in the 1960s, and I’ve also been donating regularly to the NSPCC, WaterAid and my local hospice for several decades. I feel I’ve been so fortunate in life, so it’s important to support others who have not been as lucky as me. I really believe in the causes that I donate to and I know that the money is put to good use. I’ve been giving to our local hospice since the 1980s; I have friends who have benefited from their services, they do such invaluable work and it’s amazing what they achieve, and they rely almost entirely on voluntary funds.

‘I like to read the communications that charities send to me, and keep up to date about their work and what they’ve achieved. But I don’t like it when they ask me to increase my regular donations, although if there’s an emergency appeal, like after the tsunami for example, I will give to that as the work they do makes such a difference. Other than that I feel giving is very private: I have made my own personal decisions about how much I want to give and to what cause, my direct debits are set up, and charities should respect this.’

Annabelle, 28, solicitor, London

‘There are two reasons I give money to particular charities. One is personal—a member of my immediate family has survived cancer, and my father died suddenly and at a relatively young age from a heart attack. As a result I tend to donate to cancer charities and the British Heart Foundation whenever the opportunity arises. The other reason is linked to friends and colleagues—I support charities that, for whatever reason, are important to those I have a personal relationship with.

‘Thinking about how I give to charity it is rather ad-hoc. In terms of financial support, it is usually by sponsoring others in their fundraising efforts; barely a month goes by without someone running a half-marathon or doing a charity bike ride so there are plenty of opportunities. I will also buy products that support charities I am particularly interested in; anything from Christmas cards to clothing.‘I don’t really do any research into the charities I give to. If I see something about a charity I have donated to I’ll read it, but I don’t actively seek out information.’

Mark, 31, IT Manager, Chester

‘I have given money to charity by sponsoring other people, but mostly I take part in events and get other people to sponsor me. I started by taking part in an organised cycle ride from London to Paris. I carried out a number of fundraising activities which linked into the ride itself, like getting businesses to sponsor me in exchange for wearing their logos on my kit. The following year I ran the London marathon, again doing lots of fundraising. Overall I’ve raised over £5,000 for Mind.

‘I support Mind because it helped me directly when I was ill and also provided support for my family. I used its website, and the helpline enabled me to get the right treatment and support. I know Mind is a great charity that really makes a difference to people’s lives. Mind supported me and now I feel like I have also supported Mind.

‘As well as raising money for Mind I’ve also done lots to raise awareness. I’ve featured in Mind’s communications, and I’ve spoken loads to my friends and family about the work Mind does. I put information about Mind on my fundraising pages online too, so people knew what their money is going towards.’

Keith and Alison, retired, Totnes

‘We try to help various charities in some small way or another. We give money to the Kambeng Trust in Devon, a charity set up by a friend of ours which runs a school in The Gambia. We support this because of our friendship, but also because it is a small charity fighting way above it’s weight. As well as supporting it personally, I have also leveraged funds from my former employers. We also donate to a small local charity, Totnes Caring, which does incredible work in the community—again this was introduced by a friend of ours from the village where we live.

‘Both of us are Rotarians, and we carry out voluntary work to raise funds for the organisation. We like the fact that much of the work of Rotary is aimed at local charities which often find themselves in the financial wilderness.

‘We spend half the year in South Africa, so we also support charities there—including James House, in Hout Bay in Capetown, which helps 900 orphans or children who are heading families because of Aids or TB. Alison volunteers there two days a week whilst we are in South Africa, and uses her management consulting skills to help with financial planning, budgets, cash flow and fundraising.

‘Our ethos is that we are both so fortunate in our lives and careers that we have found some small ways in giving something back to the community.’

Tamsin, 30, social worker, London

‘I am a Christian, and it says in the Bible that you should tithe money so my husband and I earmark 10% of our income to donate. Some other religions have a similar approach, such as Zakat in Islam. We give money to our local church and  I sponsor two children in Africa via the Christian charity World Vision. I also support the NSPCC, because of my job as a social worker. I’ll give to the Red Cross when there are emergency relief appeals, and at our wedding my husband and I asked for people to donate money to Water Aid.

‘I give money because I want to support the service that the organisation offers—the work World Vision does in Africa or the services our church provides in the local community. I also do some volunteering: I help to run a church youth group, and I’ll help out when they have events, like fetes.’

Jim O’Neill, economist, London

‘I am most passionate about supporting educational charities because as an economist, I believe productivity is the key to a stronger economic growth performance and greater wealth for all. Amongst the many things that contribute to productivity, I think that education is probably the absolute key.’I support a number of educational charities, but my real passion in this field is for an organisation called SHINE (support and help  in education). 12 years ago I was one of their original trustees and I’ve been their chairman for the last eight years. I help them with fundraising, and I’ve also given them quite a bit of financial support. I give money to other charities including Teach First and Piggy Bank Kids. Away from education I support research into cancer, as several family members have died from the disease.

‘Typically I will only support charities where you can see the potential difference they make in terms of goals and measured outcomes. Back in 2000 NPC helped me choose some charities to support, and that approach has really stuck with me. Evaluation and monitoring are clear principles that drive SHINE. This approach has influenced what other charities I have chosen to support.

‘In addition to practical and financial support I also try and raise awareness of the charities I support, by talking to people I know about them. I believe business-people who have done well financially should give something to support the future, and those less lucky than us.’

So, what do you think? Is labelling the Pope a faith-based donor too obvious?