January 13, 2014

Recently I was asked by a nonprofit to help them raise funds at their annual event. In thinking of ways of increasing donations, I found a recent Wall St. Journal column (Mind and Matter) by Robert M. Sapolsky offered a fascinating out-of-the-box thought. Sapolsky is a professor of biology, neuroscience, and neurosurgery at Stanford University. In his WSJ column he presented years of independent studies that show one thing: When women are present or when men are prompted to think about women, they act differently. Well, duh, don’t we all know that?  Well, yes, but we may never have thought about how it could impact nonprofit fundraising.

As Sapolsky pointed out, numerous studies show that when sexually attractive women are in attendance, men are more prone to take risks, to discount the future when making economic decisions and to spend on conspicuous luxury items. Typically, the effects are strongest in single men. By contrast, these studies uniformly report that males have no such effects on women.

Now comes research in the British Journal of Psychology that shows that in the presence of women, men made more contributions for the public good and volunteered more time for charitable causes. In fact, the size of their charitable contributions increased in the presence of women they rated as more attractive. As summarized in the title of the Journal’s paper, this seems a case of “Men Behaving Nicely: Public Goods as Peacock Tails.”

So, if you want more donations at your fundraising events, perhaps you need to make sure that there are plenty of well-heeled single men in the audience and that the room is filled with Victoria’s Secret models. Yes, it is pretty pathetic that men are so easy to read.

One comment

  1. I loved this Mark. Thank you for sharing.

    We have our annual Chamber fundraiser at the end of the month. It is a themed event yearly—this year it is the Wide World of Sports. I told all the ladies we need to dress as cheerleaders to get the $$ flowing!

    Jodi Fritts-Matthey

    City Administrator

    City of Gold Beach

    “If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find we have lost the future.”

    Sir Winston Churchill

    This electronic communication, including any attached documents, may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information that is intended only for use by the recipient(s) named above. If you have received this communication in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete the communication and any attachments.

    “Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown…”

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