Better Giving Studio developed this concept during a product sprint led by Intentional Futures, in partnership with ideas42, which focused on leveraging giving research and translating it into high level product concepts.
There are several factors contributing to the intention-action gap. Research suggests that high intent actually leads to undervaluing the importance of activities like making plans. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a culture of planning for most everyday donors. Without a plan-making habit, donors often fail to prepare, forget to act as intended, and miss opportunities to act when they arrive. Therefore, one challenge in creating more intentional giving is figuring out how to capitalize on existing intentions and turn them into productive actions. Simple Plans concept can help people create giving plans to better act on their intentions.
Most donor products and services that offer goal-setting guidance are geared toward givers who are already strategic and intentional. An opportunity exists to target donors less accustomed to planned giving by offering a lighter-weight tool that helps capture a giving intention and provides some initial scaffolding to turn that intention into action. Research into the “self-fulfilling prophecy” effect indicates that merely posing planning-related questions to individuals can increase the likelihood that they will follow through with their intention. In that study, asking potential voters about their plan to vote helped increase voter turnout by four percentage points. So asking donors about the causes they plan to give to when a future giving opportunity arrives may be enough to help them act on their goals.
Another study of planning by Harvard Business Review found that “when people most staunchly intend to perform a behavior, they are most prone to undervalue factors like plan-making, which could help them translate their intentions into actions.” For this reason, an intervention that successfully prompts plan-making in a way that doesn’t overwhelm at moments of high charitable intention could potentially help donors close the intention-action gap and follow through on their charitable goals.
A planning tool that’s surfaced at the “warm glow” moment after donors make a donation, will likely meet potential users at a time of high intent and positive affect. A prompt for goal-setting is also likely to be more effective when it reminds, or “primes,” donors with their identity as generous givers.
It’s important that initial plan-making for this audience is grounded in interest or passion areas rather than specific dollar amounts. This makes the commitment feel more personal and less pressured. Donors could select the collection of issues or organizations that they feel reflect their values—creating a template for the type of giver they want to be. Keeping this plan in mind would then help them make giving decisions when opportunities arise.
After establishing the cause areas or specific organizations they want to support, users would be prompted to select a time frame for their plan and an interval at which they will receive reminders. At the end of the flow, an optional prompt can suggest adding specific dollar values to their plan. A tool like this would help donors think through and capture their intentions, as well as provide mechanisms for follow-through, without playing into a sense of over-solicitation or “donor fatigue.”
This concept may be adopted, remixed, or used as inspiration for your own innovation efforts, by following these attribution guidelines.
This concept can be adopted, remixed, or used as inspiration for your own innovation efforts. Follow the Creative Commons guidelines below.