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What compel donors to say “yes”?

This is the million dollar question for us as fundraisers.

Understanding how people make decisions is key to our success in fundraising.

On today’s podcast, international fundraising and management consultant Dana Segal shares with us her deep insight in the psychology of decision-making. Dana is also one of the world-leading experts sharing her insights in the upcoming Individual Giving Virtual Summit on June 8th.

3 myths Dana wants us to leave behind:

  1. Fundraisers have to rationalize everything to donors to get their support. We feel the need to justify our cause, but people are not always motivated by rational reasoning, and we might actually be over-selling or overwhelming the donors.

  2. Donors always think long and hard before committing. Research shows that 80% of the time, our brains make autopilot decisions first, and then look for evidence to support it. Donors are no exception to this.

  3. We need to make big changes to get huge results. If we can tap into the psychology of how people make decisions, small changes can trigger huge results in our fundraising.

Dana’s tips on how to leverage psychology to raise more money

  1. Reinforce identity and value transformation in your call for support. Instead of saying “Donate now,” try a call to action that has a specific identity commitment, such as “I want to support women’s rights.”

  2. Highlight potential loss over potential gain. People are more likely to act when you say “you’re going to miss out on this opportunity” than “we’ll love it if you..”

  3. Reduce friction. Make it effortless for people to make a donation. For example, is the donate button super obvious on your website?

My favourite quotes from today’s episode

Post your favourite quote on our social!

“One of the biggest challenges that the not-for-profit sector is hard is that as a sector we constantly have to justify ourselves. But why is this important? Why should I care? Why should you care? That way of thinking has turned us into people who try to rationalize everything to our donors. This is a bad habit that makes us forget that actually, a lot of the time, people are not behaving like that at all.”

“The first thing you need to do is think about how you reduce the friction of that decision or behaviour pattern. That can be as simple as the number of pages that we have to click through on a website. Organizations have to take a bit of a hard long look at themselves and go, what friction are we accidentally creating here that we didn't realize before?”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Principles of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

FREE decision science e-book for arts & cultural charities

Dana’s LinkedIn

Dana’s website

Join us at the FIRST-EVER global virtual fundraising summit for arts, cultural and heritage organizations! Register for the Individual Giving Virtual Summit by clicking here

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano