The psychology of crowdfunding: Simple tricks to get maximum donations

By: Rukmini Chopra

Published On: March 19, 2018

Crowdfunding is not merely a practice but a science. If you think it is as simple as starting a fundraiser and asking for funds, it’s so much MORE than that! Learn more about the psychology of crowdfunding

Science is a beautiful gift to humanity; we should not distort it. 

-A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

An apple fell from the tree under which Isaac Newton sat, and a theory of gravitation was set in stone for centuries of scientists to build upon. Albert Einstein achieved a milestone with his Theories of Relativity and Galileo Galilei proved that the Earth, and other planets, revolve around the sun. These are just some examples of how scientific thought and achievement have shaped the world and will continue to do so for centuries to come. 

While these scientific discoveries are profound in every sense, they aren’t the only examples to define the significance of science.  The smallest bits of our lives are built upon science and technology, be it our daily commute, to what we eat, to what we do in our free time. What most of us don’t realize is that we live eat, live, breathe science.


Everything has a science and psychology behind it, including crowdfunding in India and the key to get more donors. If you think it’s a simple practice of asking for funds through a campaign, it’s so much more than that! 

The tactics that do the trick 

By now you must have come across articles-some of them on our website- regarding tips on fundraising, how to create engaging campaigns, and more, which comprises psychology of crowdfunding and ways to get more donors through crowdfunding.

While there often is an explanation given on how these successful crowdfunding tips could help you, there’s a fundamental reason to understand why they are being advised to you in the first place.

The A to Z of donor appeals 

Before writing a donor appeal for varied platforms ranging from fundraisers, to social media, to emailers, it is important for you to imagine yourself in place of the donor and ask yourself these questions-

Why would you donate money to a stranger?

Why should you empathize with a person or NGO’s cause?

What’s in it for you? 

What kind of a fundraiser would you like to read and participate in?

Putting yourself in the donor’s shoes goes a long way as it can give you perspective on how to engage them.

When it comes to donors, there are a few proven patterns that have been observed that help in coming up with appealing fundraising campaigns. 

You believe what you see 

Visuals: Use appealing pictures and vidoes

The practice of providing proof of your case applies both in court as well as fundraisers. A donor wouldn’t want to rely merely on text to believe your story. While visuals help in making a fundraiser attractive, they are also extremely important to act as a spine for your story and help in making it look authentic. Visulas can act as a strong support system in terms of pictures as well as videos. It is also important to note that when utilized appropriately, they help in increasing your fundraiser’s reach.

For medical fundraisers: Use images of the patient

In case of a fundraiser relating to a medical condition or emergency, pictures of the patient can evoke the sense of urgency in a donor. Images of medical certificates and other related documents can also validate the fundraiser and make the donor trust you. Remember, the key is to win the donor’s faith and make him/her participate in your fundraiser.

For donor appeals on social media: Use a crisp text with the image

Images accompanied by short and crisp text is the key to get the donor’s attention. The reason behind is that social media is a fast-moving medium which caters to short attention spans. The idea is make donors understand the nature of your cause.

Videos: Look directly into the camera to speak to your donors

When it comes to raising fundraisers related to creative fields such as NGO initiatives, films, personal causes etc, it is essential to have videos attached to them. When it comes to videos, here are some basic dos and don'ts to follow:

When making a video, speak directly to your probable donors, you can persuade them more to participate in your cause. According to a study by Bateson,Nettle and Roberts 2006, this tactic proved to be successful for most fundraisers.

If you are raising funds for a personal cause or are an NGO initiative, it is always a good idea to include your friends and family members in the video, asking them to talk about your background and why you should support the campaigner’s cause. This way, the donor is assured about your passion and the authenticity of the project.

Do NOT make a video simply by presenting a bunch of images together. You might as well not make a video and tell your story through pictures. It might give donors an impression that you are a lazy campaigner. Always have someone talk to the crowd directly through the video.

Here's an example of a good video: 

Give em’ the dirt in details 

Nobody would want to donate to your cause without knowing a little something about you or your NGO. Giving out details helps the donor to believe in a campaigner’s story. 

Let the world know who you are: Provide details of your background 

It always helps to give donors a little background about your history, before asking them to contribute to your cause. From your name, to profession, to interests, etc, give the donor enough to remember you and look you up. Example: My name is John Smith and I am a journalist by profession. I live in Mumbai and have a two daughters and a wife….

Paint the needed picture: Give the patient's details

When donating to medical fundraisers, donors are interested to know what the patient is suffering from; they want detail. From the causes to the symptoms to the current condition, it helps to paint the needed picture of the patient’s suffering and discomfort so that donors can empathize with you. Remember, the key is to get them to feel for you. Example: My daughter is has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and suffers from amnesia, vomiting, itching, shortness of breath etc.

Keep it short: Use a crisp text on sweet on social media

You can’t go into many details about a patient’s condition when raising funds through social media as well as emailers. In such cases, highlight the gravity of the person’s medical state by including the amount of time the patient has for the treatment/surgery. Example: My brother is suffering from end stage liver cancer and needs a transplant within 15 days.

This tip by Fundraising Script on how to utilize you social media networks appropriately will help.

Getting to the point: Highlight your NGO’s projects and victories

If you are raising a fundraiser on behalf of an NGO, it is important to highlight the projects that the organization has worked on and the milestones it has achieved. Through this technique, the donors will be reassured that their money is in a reliable organization’s hands. 

The theory of relatability

Even if people can’t relate to your cause personally, it is essential for you to try and make them feel empathy in more general ways. A donor will be engaged in a campaigner's plea only after he or she gets a sense of one’s passion and dedication to the cause. 

Give a detailed breakdown of the funds

Instead of simply mentioning that you need Rs.15,00,000 for your cause, it would be useful for you to provide a breakdown of the funds and how they will be utilized. That way, the donors know how their hard earned money will come to use, as explained in a research by Bekkers and Wiepking, 2010.

Showing off helps: Talk about your NGO's achievements 

In case you are representing an NGO, it is always a good idea to give donors an idea about the organization’s reputation and affiliations with other big companies. That way, donors will feel more compelled to help you out. Also, instead of asking people to help out 500 children, use a case study. Example: Ria is 5 years-old and suffers from malnutrition. NGO (XYZ) is aiming to help out thousands of children like Ria. 

Be emotional in your approach: Talk about personal events and incidents

It doesn’t help being strictly factual when it comes to fundraising. Though numbers and statistics are important, it is vital for you to storytell with emotion to the donor. Hence, talk about a personal event or incident related to the fundraiser or a reason why the cause is close to your heart.

What a donor wants 

Most people like to be validated for what they do. If you give people what they want, chances are that they will come back to you for more. Always make it a point to reward your donors in ways small or big, to make them feel that their contribution is valued. There are many ways in which you can do this.

Give rewards according to your cause/project

If you are collecting funds for a product that you are making, it’s a good idea to give donors a free sample of the same as a thank you gesture. Incase you have received the required funds for a medical fundraiser, you can thank your donors through a social-media pop-up note, or an update on your post about the patient’s progress. If it’s a social event, you can ask your donors to attend it for free. Choose your reward wisely.

Keep a reward tier system

Distribute the rewards into tiers based on the size of the donations that you receive. For example: For those who contribute Rs 100 to the fundraiser, will receive 5 free samples of the product. For those who donate 50, will receive 2 products, so on and so forth.

Update the rewards closer to the fundraiser deadline

It helps to introduce exciting rewards, closer to the fundraiser deadline, in order to keep the donors engaged and even catch them by surprise. 

Remind. Update. Target. Repeat.

Here are some key points for you to take away from this article to come up with an appealing fundraiser next: 

Let people know what’s happening

Simply starting a fundraiser and asking for monetary help is not enough. Keep updating your donors about how their money is coming into use. Even if it’s not related to money, any update regarding the cause is important to keep the donors interested and assured. 

Keep reminding people about the closing date of the fundraiser

When you do this, donors get the sense of urgency of your fundraiser.  It is important to keep motivating them to help.

Finally, first approach your friends and family for your cause

Those who know you closely will help you first, over strangers. It is important for a campaigner to spread the word about his/her fundraiser amongst family and close friends. 

Note that these tactics help in creating a successful campaign, which in turn attracts more donors. If your campaign is closer to the goal amount, people will donate more to it than donating to a fundraiser with little or no funds. This is because people want to be reassured that the cause that they are supporting is reaching its mission and their money isn’t going to waste, as suggested by this article on

So remember, there’s a lot that goes into coming up with a successful fundraiser. Keep these points in mind and you're good to go! 

We suggest you also read:

Donation-Based Crowdfunding: 20 New Hacks To A Successful Fundraiser And More

Creative Crowdfunding In India: How To Get Your Dream Project Funded