Arab Giving Survey: five lessons for fundraisers

The Arab Giving Survey can tell charities, foundations and NGOs much about what drives philanthropy in the GCC

A snapshot of donor motivation, it offers lessons to be found for effective fundraising. Whether it is what inspires people to donate, or the ways in which they do so, the Arab Giving Survey may reveal approaches that could boost the funding of community charities and global NGOs alike.

[For a visual guide to the Arab Giving Survey, click here]

Results are king A key finding is that results are vital to donors - 85 per cent cite the impact achieved by charities as influencing their decision to give. This is a sign of a slowly maturing market, where impact drives donations. NGOs and relief agencies that are clear about how money is used, and the results it generates – and are able to communicate that well to donors – have an edge in fundraising.

Cause and effect Donors want to actively engage with causes that matter to them, as well as see the impact their donations are having. Selecting charities that are close to their heart is a primary motivation for 44 per cent of donors. Both transparency in how funds are used and information about results achieved with the funds follow closely behind, reinforcing the idea that results are a crucial part of the mix. Charities with a clear cause and reportable results are in a strong position to build their donor base.

Word of mouth Donors rely on people they know to inform their giving. Some 26 per cent of those polled said they relied on family, friends and colleagues for insights into charity and philanthropy. Traditional media – newspapers, TV and radio – was the second most relevant source of information, the survey found.

In an age of social media and online donations it might be easy to forget or just ignore some old-school techniques, but the Arab Giving Survey revealed the simple things are still relevant. The leading donation method across the Gulf, for instance, is still putting cash in a charity collection box, while social media campaigns were bottom of the list of sources for information on philanthropy – just 5 per cent of respondents said digital media informed their giving. The takeaway? Charities should not abandon traditional methods in favour of digital options and word of mouth influence still matters.

Learning curve Donors need to develop a greater understanding of their role as financial supporters and the impact they can have. Despite having a generous outlook and a willingness to engage with philanthropic work the majority of respondents – 79 per cent - think governments and businesses carry the most responsibility to make financial contributions to charitable causes. Charities need to make a donor’s role and importance clearer if they are to influence this view.

Charity begins at home For donors, home remains where the heart is. Despite being affected by information about poverty, third-world development and disaster relief, half of donors want to give to community-based or city-wide organisations. It’s a factor that may help explain why 40 per cent of respondents included direct donations to individuals in need among their preferred causes. Charities that can help donors see and understand the impact of their efforts in their local community can take advantage of this outlook to boost fundraising.  

About the Arab Giving Survey

The Arab Giving Survey was produced in partnership with global market research company YouGov. Research was conducted online among 1,008 Arab respondents in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC), between 29 May and 8 June 2015. For more information, or to purchase a copy of the report, contact