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How to Use Psychology to Boost your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

Fundraisers know that inspiring and motivating donors is the #1 goal of every campaign. Without creating these connections, campaigns fall flat, revenue plateaus, and impactful projects get stalled.

So how do nonprofits continuously inspire and motivate donors to give, especially around the holidays? Rest assured it’s not through outdated sales tactics or wishing on lucky stars. No matter the season or what the economic climate (or *ahem* a pandemic…) throws at us, successful campaigns are steeped in data-driven psychology frameworks like the DIME model.

While there are a myriad of reasons that donors contribute, the DIME model represents a science-backed method to improving fundraising success. DIME, which stands for donation impact, motivation, and effort, can be used by organizations of all sizes, categories, and maturity because it taps into core psychological traits that we all share as social humans.

Here’s how you can implement the DIME model to elevate your year-end campaign and unleash generosity.

Donation impact

Few things motivate donors more than knowing exactly how their donations will support your mission. Why? Because telling donors how their personal contributions make a difference helps them see a relationship between their donation and real impact, which further builds their trust in your organization and encourages ongoing support.


  • Show, don’t tell: When it comes to your year-end campaign, make sure you’re clearly showcasing how donations are being used. Better yet, quantify them (for example, $25 = 4 first aid kits, $50 = 8 hot meals, etc.). And since supporters feel like their dollars make a difference when they see others have donated (e.g., social proof), go a step further by visually representing the gap of how much you raised and your ultimate fundraising goal with a fundraising thermometer or chart.
  • Set up matching opportunities: Help donors make an even greater impact by setting up matching opportunities. Not only does this inspire camaraderie, but it makes the most of every dollar since each donation is multiplied—typically by two, but sometimes more!


Donors are driven by two primary forms of motivation: self-focused or other-focused. In other words, some donors may be self-motivated by something such as tax incentives while others have a true desire to support your mission. Through data analysis and simple surveys, you can gain a better understanding of what motivates your supporters.


  • Take inventory: Prior to diving into your year-end campaign communications, assess any data points that identify your supporters’ motivations to donate to develop targeted lists and messaging. If there’s no clear winner, just choose one motivation to lean on in each communication—sending a mix of both motivations often repels both types of individuals instead of resonating with either.
  • Send personalized thank you notes: An easy way to keep donors happy and inspire additional donations is by simply sending personalized thank you notes, which have shown to have an even bigger impact on donations than receiving an organization update or tax form.


Donors want to be involved and take an active role in the donation process. Several studies have shown that giving supporters the ability to exert effort and contribute to organizational decision-making increases donations, both by volume and dollar amount. In other words, most donors don’t want to just cut checks. They want to feel included and valued.


  • Implement challenges: While it sounds counterintuitive, it’s been proven time and time again that people donate more after they work for it (think charitable races, food drive competitions, and social media campaigns like the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge).
  • Explore adoptions and charity catalogs: People don’t really want to adopt a manatee… so why is it so effective for water conservation charities? Because it makes donors feel like they’re taking a more active role than just writing a check. This same idea works wildly well for seasonal catalogs in which donors choose to donate a set amount that represents specific items.

Looking to give your year-end fundraising campaign a boost?

For more information or assistance with firing up your donors for year-end, check out our 8 Weeks of Year-End Fundraising Resources or contact us at

Questions?We’d love to help.

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