Study Finds Experts Motivate Employees To Give More And More Often

ideas42 and Benevity test how expert-curated “GiveLists” affect altruistic behavior within companies

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create an ongoing level of need across the globe, but it can be challenging for donors to figure out where to give. ideas42, a research and design nonprofit specializing in behavioral science, is bringing renewed attention to the results from a test commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the impact of experts on workplace giving behavior through the Benevity platform. Part of a two-year study looking at how lists of causes that are curated by experts (known as “GiveLists”) affect donor behavior, the test showed that employees ended up giving 29% more often and 63% more money when presented with expert-curated GiveLists.

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The report details behavioral obstacles that could be inhibiting people from acting on their desire to support nonprofits. And with profound impacts from the pandemic affecting both desire and ability to help others, the report findings highlight a way for companies to engage their people more effectively.

To conduct the test, ideas42 and Benevity teamed up with a Fortune 500 technology company to look at the engagement of the company’s U.S.-based employees active on the Benevity platform over a four-month period. The test compared the actions of employees who were shown expert-curated GiveLists against a control group who saw the same content without an associated expert. Key findings, which are detailed in the Benevity Impact Labs Report: Bridging the Goodness Gap and ideas42’s report Lessons from the GiveLists, include the following:

  • Donation rate – Those who clicked through on the expert-curated GiveLists made more donations on average during the testing period: 3.1 donations per person vs. 2.4 donations per person for the control group.
  • Donation amount – Donors who engaged with the expert-curated GiveLists gave 63 percent more dollars on average, suggesting that expert-curated content inspires more generosity.

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“Our past research has shown that people aren’t actually as generous as they’d like to be,” said Omar Parbhoo, vice president at ideas42. “While Americans think they should be giving 6 percent of their income to non-profit causes, in reality, they are giving under half of that figure. It’s unclear whether this is because people are too busy to research causes, overwhelmed by the choices available, or afraid of making the wrong choice. With the GiveList study, we set out to determine whether or not experts could help people overcome those potential obstacles.”

In addition to this gap, research has also shown that up to $7 billion in corporate matching funds goes unclaimed each year.

“Corporate programs are most successful when they are based on trust. They require trust in order for people to take action, and then they reinforce trust when they deliver impact,” said Sona Khosla, Chief Impact Officer at Benevity. “The fact that experts—who can be anyone from a CEO to a frontline worker—have the power to influence people’s engagement in giving behavior demonstrates the infinite potential of a single individual to drive exponential impact by simply lending their voice to a cause. When the world talks about business being the most trusted institution, this is just one more way companies can continue to engender and leverage their trust for greater impact.”

Benevity and ideas42 continue to work together on industry-leading research and studies that aim to help companies help people be their best selves and contribute to a global culture of goodness.

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