Giving is sexy!

Following all the chat among 3egg and co recently about the lack of giving in Australia and the offering of thoughts on what might be done to encourage it, I have something to throw into the mix!

What would you say if I said giving is sexy? Would it appeal to you? Would it make you grimace? It made me snigger – philanthro-geek that I am – but it did get me thinking. It’s definitely not the sort of language that is normally used around philanthropy but a UK report written for the Philanthropy Review in April 2011 suggests that this small but significant change in how we frame giving could be the key which unlocks all those “hidden” AU philanthropic $$ that we keep talking about.

The study, The Aha: Why donors give, why non-donors don’t and what to do about it, written by Carol Fiennes (CEO of UK Climate Change Charity, Global Cool Foundation) suggests that the reason some people don’t give is because they simply aren’t motivated to: that the way that giving is generally talked about only appeals to a certain group within the population.

The study draws on the outcomes of research carried out by the UK company, Cultural Dynamics, Strategy & Marketing, to determine what drives people to do what they do. CDSM surveyed more than 8,000 people with over 1,000 questions and, with the data gathered, was able to identify a series of fundamental psychological needs that we as people are trying to satisfy – the needs which drive our behaviours and the vision of the person we want to become – and segment them. They called this the ‘Values Modes’ segmentation.

The segmentation identifies that there are three types of people:

  • Sustenance Driven (SD)
  • Outer Directed (OD) and
  • Inner Directed (ID)

In a nutshell:

  • SDs are socially conservative – they’re wary of change, keep to the rules and want to be directed by authority. Their key need is to feel safe and secure;
  • ODs are driven by needing the esteem of others and want to be seen to succeed. They are a higher energy, fun-seeking group and are instinctive rather than analytical; and
  • IDs are always questioning and looking for ethical and intellectual stimulation. They don’t find change worrying and see global issues as their issues. They’re more analytical than instinctive.

The ‘Values Modes’ segmentation’s been used successfully for over 30 years in over 30 countries – for purposes which range from selling soft drinks to determining voting behaviours – and has predicted Value Modes with over 97% accuracy. For more info on CDSM’s work, click this link to their website. CDSM

If you hadn’t guessed already, us Philanthro-niks (Fiennes’ word for us philanthropeeps and my favourite to date!) are defined as Inner Directed people. I did the survey and despite giving answers that I was sure would lead to me bucking the trend and being an OD, surprise surprise, I was categorised as an ID.  If you’d like to do the short survey and find out which of the segmentations you are, click here: Value Modes Survey

Apparently much of the thinking in The Aha draws on Fiennes’ work at Global Cool, which is a charity that aims to get more people to adopt a lower-carbon lifestyle. Global Cool was looking into how to “sell” green lifestyles to people and realised that the way that they’d been doing it had resulting in them preaching to the converted: with campaigns developed by IDs which only appealed to IDs. They realised that their challenge was to make low-carbon living attractive to the OD and SDs of the world who they knew, generally speaking, were less interested in the issue. So they developed a series of campaigns to get people to make green lifestyle choices based on the things that motivate them. For example, one campaign works to entice people to turn down the heat in their homes by “turning up the style” instead – wearing beautiful, fashionable woolly jumpers to combat the cold with the added benefit of keeping their skin from drying out! Through the campaigns they seem to be capturing the broader imagination.  Brilliant!

I have to be honest when I first read the report, I found myself curling my lip and rolling my eyes at the suggestions it makes to encourage broader giving (maybe that‘s because I‘m an ID….and a bit of a curmudgeon?!). It all sounded kind of patronising….“make giving fun & social“, “make giving easy“, “avoid people feeling that giving is a loss“, instead of promoting giving at music festivals or in a serious newspaper, do it at a yacht club or a glitzy event with business leaders. Essentially, diamond encrust the carrot that’s dangled and make the promise of a feature story in Grazia magazine (for the ODs at least). But with a track record as strong as the segmentation’s in terms of determining motivations and behaviours, I did a 360 and started to think it’d be well worth trying it. If this is all it might take to increase and broaden giving, why not?!

One thing that stood out when I read the report, which worried me a bit given all the negative press here just now around giving, is that rather than talking about the lack of giving we should instead celebrate giving: to normalise the notion of doing this rather than exacerbate the trend to not give. It makes sense, I think. Talking about a wealth of giving creates the feeling that there is a scale of investment which makes problems tackle-able, rather than making them feel too big and too hard to deal with, creating a desire to sweep them under the carpet.

So…the question is….what do you think?  Should giving be “sexy”?!