Is the right information TOO much information?

I just received a surprising email from Jerry Panas at Institute for Charitable Giving.  I wish it were posted on the internet so that I could link to it.  I don’t have permission to copy it verbatim.  But here’s the gist of it.

You’d think that if your charity’s overhead costs were low, you’d want to capitalize on that, right?

You’d want your donors and prospects to know how efficient your charity is.  You want them to feel good knowing that the greater part of their contribution is going towards the programs and services they intend to support.

It turns out that providing information on your charity’s overhead, even if it’s extemely low, makes donors less likely to donate!

Furthermore, when people are given the facts and statistics about an issue your charity addresses, they’re less likely to donate.

What works best?

Apparently, an image works best.  A hungry child.  An abused puppy.  A frightened woman.

When you give your prospects more than one thing to think about, it decreases the likelihood of a gift.

This is all according to the book “The Science of Giving,” co-edited by David Oppenheimer at Princeton University.  Apparently, the above findings were the result of research.

Of course, I have questions.

Who are the people he interviewed?  If most of his respondents were casual givers of small amounts, I am ready to believe the results of his research.

But in my experience, major and corporate donors require more information from a charity to reach a decision.

I suppose I should read the book.  I just received the email today.  If you’ve read the book and have comments, please comment!

If you’d like to subscribe to Jerry Panas’s email list through the Institute of Charitable Giving, you can go to the website here:  I’ve attended some of the seminars, and they’re top notch.