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Part Two of "Givers & Giving"

How do givers decide how much to give? And how can we get them to give more? Those are the two questions that follow once we know what turns listeners into givers.

As AUDIENCE 98 sees it, giving and gift size are the intertwined products of a person’s motivation, mindset, and means.

Most of the factors that determine a listener’s decision to give also influence the amount given.

Motivations and Mindsets

Before deciding how much to give, a listener must be ready to give. The Stairway to Given, created in the Givers report, leads a person to a giving state of mind:

The first three steps are motivations rooted in the appeal of public radio’s programming. The only way to encourage listeners to climb these three steps is through programming.

Funding beliefs are mindsets that we can influence with messages that convey the need for listener support, particularly in light of diminishing government subsidies.

Although sequential steps are implied, only the first step – listening – has a critical place in the order. These motivations and mindsets can develop at any time and accumulate until a listener is ready to give.


The decision to give is made a little sooner among persons with annual household incomes above $100,000. But for most listeners, their means are at best a minor consideration in the decision of whether or not to give.

That said, AUDIENCE 98 validates an observation most of us make:

People who have more money can give more money.

Hardly a startling revelation, but its implications run deep. If a person’s ability to afford a gift doesn’t cause him or her to give, yet the size of the gift is influenced by the financial means available, then

the motivations and mindsets that cause giving are independent of a person’s means. All listeners, regardless of their incomes, can be motivated and educated to give to public radio.

Gift Size

No model can include all of the listener characteristics that influence the size of a particular listener’s gift. But for every $10 AUDIENCE 98’s model can explain,

What does this tell us?

Reliance and personal importance – two programming-centered motivations in the decision to give – are so powerful that they also pervade the decision of how much to give.

In fact, half of AUDIENCE 98’s ability to predict gift size is based on these two motivations. Together they weigh more heavily in the determination of gift size than a person’s financial means.

In sum:

While a good public service can get a listener to give, a better public service can increase the size of his gift.

Although VALSTM 2 is a good predictor of whom from the general population may listen to public radio’s programming, it is not a predictor of who will give. Nor does VALS type predict the amount of money a giver will give.

AUDIENCE 98 does find that Actualizers come with a 10 percent premium built in. And knowing that Actualizers are over-represented in both listening and giving helps us shape more effective messages that resonate with their values and beliefs.

Applying This Knowledge

Understanding the most basic motivations, means, and mindsets that cause giving and influence gift size can help us shape and hone messages that encourage every type of listener to give – and to give more.

In other words, appeals, gifts, and other techniques can trigger a gift; but our program service is the indisputable cause of that gift.

The largest part of every listener dollar is payment for a person’s use, reliance, and appraisal of your program service.

And that’s good news because, unlike a listener’s income or VALS type, the program service is under our control.

But control can cut both ways, reducing as well as boosting giving and gift size. Interrupt their program service, or send messages that clash with their reasons for listening, and listeners will have another reason not to give – or another reason to give less.

– David Giovannoni    
– Leslie Peters    
UDIENCE 98 Core Team    

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Part One of this report – "Givers" – concerns what motivates a listener to give.  Part Two – "Giving" – identifies the levels of gift amount and advances ideas on how to encourage higher levels of giving.

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For More Information

Affordability is a part of anyone’s gift-giving calculus. What is affordable over the course of a year may not be affordable in a single gift. David Giovannoni and John Sutton suggest how the affordability of an annual gift can be more closely aligned with a persons financial means On the Occasion of Giving.

This report is based on a statistical model created by AUDIENCE 98 to explain gift size. The Giving Model’s technical attributes and finer points are presented in a (not too technical) sidebar that conveys the full extent of what we learned in our exploration.

You may be surprised at What We Didn’t Find contributing to the size of gift. You don’t have to check your hypotheses at the door, but you do have to check them.

Using the Stairway to Given when Comparing Givers by Size of Gift reveals that those who are the most generous to public radio know the route up the Stairway the best.


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Navigate the Report

arrow.gif (139 bytes)     Giving (Part Two of "Givers and Giving")
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes)     On the Occasion of Giving
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) The Giving Model
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) What We Didn’t Find
navblue.jpg (647 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) transpxl.gif (67 bytes) Stairway to Given
  Comparing Givers by Size of Gift

Audience Research Analysis
Copyright ARA and CPB.  All rights reserved.
Revised: September 01, 2000 12:38 PM.