The Science Behind the Art of Fundraising Campaigns

The creativity and ingenuity required to craft a successful fundraising campaign should not be underestimated. In the charity sector we do not have a product or service to supply in exchange for money. Instead we must convince people to part with their hard earned money in support of a cause, be that local, national or international. Undoubtedly, this is a hard sell but is certainly not impossible.

Charity appeals present potential donors with a decision to make, will I or won’t I support this cause? And so, a good foundation for charity appeals is understanding the behavioral science behind how people make decisions.

“We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” - Antonio Damasio

Thinking, Fast and Slow

People make decisions in one of two modes or systems according to Daniel Kahnemann, author of the groundbreaking book on behavioral psychology and decision making “Thinking, Fast And Slow”.

System 1 is where we make impulsive decisions from instinct and our intuition. These decisions are often made unconsciously, when the person is in ‘autopilot’ and are predominantly driven by emotion. According to Kahnemann, 95% of our decisions are driven by this system.

System 2 is where we make rational decisions. This is when people use problem solving techniques and critical thinking to guide the decision-making process. As much as we like to think that we all make decisions with reason and logic, only 5% of decisions are actually made in this way according to Kahnemann.

Facts and figures have their place and can be an effective way of demonstrating the scale of  the problem that needs to be addressed. However, facts and figures can be cold, overwhelming and target system 2. As Kahnemann said, “thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats, they can do it but they would prefer not to.” It is best to avoid drowning your audience in facts and figures. People will instinctively begin to think about the scale of the problem rather than the difference you are making. Once people’s train of thought  goes off on a tangent you have lost them.

Creatives should demonstrate the human aspect hidden behind the facts and figures and appeal to people’s emotions. Storytelling is a popular and appropriate tool to appeal to the emotional triggers of system 1. Storytelling has been employed in both the for profit and not for profit sector for good reason.

Stories, Emotions & Oxytocin

The neurochemical called oxytocin is produced when we are shown forms of kindness from others or when someone instills trust in us. Furthermore, it motivates us to cooperate with others. Oxytocin does this by boosting our sense of empathy.

Dr. Paul J. Zak conducted tests to see if narratives shot on video would cause the brain to make oxytocin. The study showed that character-driven stories consistently caused the brain to make oxytocin. As Dr. Zak said in the Harvard Business Review when discussing his findings:

“The amount of oxytocin released by the brain predicted how much people were willing to help others; for example; donating money to a charity associated with the narrative.”

Dr. Zak’s research discovered that in order to motivate people to help others through a narrative, the story must first grab and sustain attention. This is done by creating tension. His lab found that “If the story is able to create that tension then it is likely that attentive viewers will come to share the emotions of the characters in it.” Tension in this instance is showing the problem or need that is to be addressed in a compelling narrative.

From Empathy to Action

Converting the feeling of empathy into an action is easier said than done. Luckily, The Fogg Behavior Model was developed to help us to understand the process of converting emotions into actions. The model shows that three elements must converge at the same time for a behavior to occur: Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Prompt

Fogg Behavior Model -- 2019.jpeg

Motivation - in order to motivate the sought after behavior one needs to stand out and be noticed. This is why we should target system 1 and people’s emotions through a compelling story or narrative. If successful, this will release oxytocin and boost people’s sense of empathy.

Ability - Be widely available, easy to understand and simple to buy, or in our case, support financially. Having already succeeded in getting people to empathise with your appeal it is important to not make the person jump through a number of hoops. The more hoops they  must jump through, the more will fall off. This is one of the reasons why Like Charity’s Text-To-Donate service has been so successful. A text of one word to an easily recalled keyword is all it takes for a potential donor to become a supporter. And better still, Like Charity’s new Recurring Text-To-Donate service has made it incredibly easy for potential donors to support your cause on a continuous basis.

A multi-stepped process has been reduced to a single text message of a single word.

Prompt - also known as a call-to-action - As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you won’t get. No need to be discreet here, tell the people what you need and explicitly ask for their support.

People make hundreds of decisions everyday. Some are significant and others trivial. As fundraisers we are presenting people with another decision to make within their hectic day, will I support this cause? Because of this it is important that we all have a basic understanding of the behavioral science behind decision making and continuously improve our understanding of the field.

National Volunteer Week 2018


Volunteering our time and resources to the causes we believe in can be one of the most rewarding things we can do. The sense that we have dedicated a piece of ourselves to help others is an incredibly empowering and noble act which should be commended.

National Volunteer Week takes place between from the 14th-20th May 2018. The week is dedicated to highlighting the fantastic work volunteers across the country put in to selflessly help others. As a nation we are famed for our goodwill as well as our self-deprecation. National Volunteer Week shines a light on the generosity of  people within our communities which, due to our natural self-deprecating ways, we could do with a helping hand promoting!

The theme of National Volunteer Week 2018 is Volunteering Builds Better Communities and this is something that cannot be underestimated. So many charities and their volunteers support and supplement vital gaps in communities, from volunteer-led mental health services to groups protecting our environment and everything in between.

The beauty of volunteering is that it not only benefits your community, it also benefits each individual volunteer. It brings people together, creates stronger bonds between members of a community and on a personal level can build ones confidence and self-esteem.

So what are you waiting for?!

If you are not already a volunteer why not see what charities and volunteer-led groups are working within your community? They will certainly appreciate the extra help!


Donation Day 2017 - Giving The Gift of Sight This Christmas


This year Christmas FM partnered with Sightsavers for its annual Donation Day. Christmas FM’s Donation Day is celebrated each year in the run up to Christmas with the aim of raising as much money as possible for its nominated charity. This years nominated charity, Sightsavers, set an ambitious target of raising €125,000 to enable Sightsavers to give the gift of sight to over 3,500 people.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people, including 875 million children. That is one in five people worldwide. Sightsavers work tirelessly to treat those suffering from NTDs and take preventative action to stop the spread of NTDs in affected regions. Without the generosity of the public much of the great work Sightsavers do would not be possible and this is why Christmas FM’s Donation Day was so important.

Christmas FM’s Donation Day took place on the 20th December 2017. All parties involved worked tirelessly throughout the day to ensure Sightsavers reached their target of raising €125,000 which was achieved. The Irish are renowned for their generosity and this was shown in abundance on Donation Day 2017!

LIKECHARITY would like to congratulate all parties involved in Christmas FM’s Donation Day and we are immensely proud to have played a small part in ensuring the day was a roaring success! The star of the show was the Christmas FM listeners and thanks to their generosity Sightsavers are enabled to perform 3,500 sight restoring operations.

Disappointed you didn't get to get involved on Donation Day 2017? No need to fret! You can still help by texting 'Xmas' to 50300 to donate €2 (min. €1.80 goes to Sightsavers) and remember to tune into Christmas FM! Sure, you could switch that dial right now and get into the Christmas spirit!

LIKECHARITY's Journey to €7 Million


This week LIKECHARITY is celebrating raising €7 Million for charities through the text-to-donate platform!

LIKECHARITY’s story began in 2013 with a simple goal - to help charities raise money in a more cost effective way. The company’s founders, John Kyne and Tadhg O’Toole, saw a gap between charities and potential donors and a simple text message was the tool to bring these two groups together.

Over 300 charities have benefited from LIKECHARITY’s text-to-donate platform since it was created and this week we celebrate raising €7 million for charities through the text-to-donate platform.

All of us at LIKECHARITY are immensely proud to reach €7 million raised for charities to date and are looking forward to raising our next €7 million and more!


SMS Milestone - 25 Years Old This Week!


This week marks a milestone in communication technology with the 25th birthday of the SMS (short messaging service). The text message has had quite the journey since the inception of the idea in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert to become the most successful communications platform of all time.

In the early days of the text message things were very different. There was no alphabetical keypad on a touchscreen smart device and the thought of getting a free text to any person on any network sounded like a thing of fiction. The question “what network are you on?” was constantly muttered in an effort to desperately protect one’s credit balance in the early days. Thankfully those days are well behind us!

The advent of the T9 system of writing text using a number keypad made texting a much simpler task and one universally accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. The system was so innovative that it was quickly adopted by all the major players in the industry.

The big game changer for the SMS was in 1999 when mobile operators allowed their customers to send texts to people on different carrier networks. This made the SMS a viable modern day communications platform that could connect people the world over.

By 2007 the text message was the most successful communications platform of all time. This was also the year that the first iPhone was launched and soon smartphones and instant messaging apps were predicted to be the downfall of the SMS.

Despite this prediction SMS has five billion users today and this number is growing. The humble text message has not only allowed us to communicate with the people we know, it has paved the way for innovations in a number of industries. None more so than in the charity sector where texting has been at the forefront of fundraising campaigns.

For LIKECHARITY the power of a text message cannot be under-estimated. LIKECHARITY broke down the barriers that made the text message a cost-effective means of fundraising for charities and today Irish charities have raised over €7,000,000 through our Text-To-Donate platform.

For more information on LIKECHARITY’s Text-To-Donate platform contact  


Charities - It's Time To Get Mobile!


Charity’s are founded and operate in order to help those who need assistance in their time of need, so it’s fair to say charity’s can be characterised as being friendly. But in the digital age it’s no longer good enough to be just friendly, you have to be mobile-friendly!

In 2016 mobile overtook desktop as the most used means to access websites online for the first time. This milestone was inevitable based on the fact that year on year mobile was closing the gap with desktop as the preferred means to access websites online. Despite the fact that 55.79% of traffic to websites comes from mobile in 2017 ( many sectors have been slow to respond to society’s adaptive use of the internet.

The facts are there, if your website is not mobile optimised then you will lose visitors on your website in bucket loads and for charities this means potential donors. According to Google people are five times more likely to leave a site if it is not mobile-friendly and over half of all mobile users will leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Furthermore, if your website is not mobile-optimised then Google’s SEO selection process for search results will punish you and chances are your website will not show up on the first page of search results. This could result in potential donors not even considering you in their decision making process when deciding what charity to support.

Addressing your website’s mobile-optimisation may seem like a daunting task but with a little research and an understanding of the importance of mobile-friendly websites for people today the process should be painless and fruitful. Google and Moz are two great sources for information on mobile-optimisation among many others and these should arm you with the required tool kit to not only be a friendly non-profit organisation but to also be a mobile-friendly non-profit organisation!

Here at LIKECHARITY we have developed a mobile optimised donations page for charities to capture donations online and it integrates seamlessly with social media for which mobile is by far the preferred device used. Your donations page is customisable to suit your charity’s brand and asks from your supporters. For more information on LIKECHARITY’s mobile optimised donations page contact



Housing First - The Solution to Ireland's Homelessness Crisis?


Month on month figures reveal that more and more men, women and children are finding their way onto our streets with no home to call their own. We need a change of strategy to effectively address the homelessness crisis in Ireland.

The government’s strategy in dealing with homelessness has been to provide short-term emergency accommodation through local authorities. Yes, this is better than doing nothing at all for people who find themselves with nowhere to go. But is it effective? Does it give people the platform to grow and make a life for themselves and their family? Does the current programme try to figure out why people are in their current situation and take proactive action to ensure that they and future generations will never have to face homelessness again? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is no. It really is a case of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.

Housing First - Ireland’s Alternative
Homeless services in Ireland generally operate on a staircase recovery model. In short, those seeking to be housed must prove their worth. For example, this can be done by living continuously in a homeless shelter while completing an addiction course or rehabilitation programme to prove one’s suitability for a home if substance abuse is identified as an issue. However, without a home one could only imagine the daily struggles you would face, mental and physical. The expectation of then entering and working your way up through the staircase model to secure housing is an unrealistic means to select those who need a home.

The Housing First Model sees the stairways recovery model as having the order backwards. The stages of the Housing First Model are:

Firstly, supply the person in question with a home of their own.

Immediately a specially dedicated care team give supports such as counselling or treatment for substance abuse to the new tenants if that is an identified inhibitor.

With continued support tenants develop the skills and resilience needed to sustain and flourish in their life and new home.

It is a simple model and the central premise makes perfect sense. Give someone a home and you’ll give them security and a platform to build from. Then the issues surrounding why such a person became homeless in the first place and how to avoid future homelessness can be addressed through the care team. This eventually leads to the full independent living of the tenant in receipt of the home.

The statistics back up the theory of the Housing First Model. In 2008, Finland adopted the Housing First Model and has eliminated long-term homelessness there. In Utah, USA, the implementation of the Housing First Model resulted in a 72% reduction in the numbers classified as long-term homeless in its first 9 years. Today, long-term homelessness has been eradicated in Utah.

In 2011, a shift towards the Housing First Model to alleviate long term homelessness was published in the Programme for Government. Currently only 1% of the national homeless budget is allocated to the Housing First Model. It is imperative that the government allocates more funding towards the Housing First Model so that charities and local authorities can tackle Ireland’s homelessness crisis effectively.



The Minister for Finance, Pascal Donogue, delivered Budget 2018 on the 10th October 2017. The budget received a mixed reception from charity sector organisations. Although extra funding for vital services was secured through tireless lobbying by charitable organisations, many feel not enough was done to tackle Ireland’s social issues. The following is a sector by sector breakdown of what the budget means for charitable organisations and their work:



Homelessness and the housing crisis

An additional €18 million funding for homeless services is welcome and will allow for homeless service providers to make more beds available in an attempt to alleviate Ireland’s growing homelessness crisis. However, it is questionable if this will be enough to make a significant impact as the crisis deepens at an unprecedented rate.

Across the board there was a welcomed increase in funding available for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme. Mr. O’Donoghue announced that an extra €149 million would be made available to the scheme in order to aid those struggling to make rental payments in the ever inflated private rental market. This is a preventative measure, rather than a reactionary measure, which is a more proactive approach to solving Ireland’s homeless crisis than in the recent past. The test of this measure will be private rental sector’s willingness to accept such payments by tenants struggling to make their spiralling rent.

Perhaps the most disappointing measure announced was the increased build of social housing. The announcement that 3,800 new social houses are to be built by the end of next year by local authorities and approved housing bodies was  a step in the right direction. However, when these figures were scrutinised by opposition parties and industry experts a different picture emerged. The 3,800 social housing homes promised by the Minister for Finance was already announced by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in September of this year. This actual increase from previously pledged social housing builds was thirty-one social houses.




The increased funding for the health service is seen as positive. In particular, extra funding for mental health services of €35 million is certainly a step in the right direction.

The need for extra funding for primary and social care by addressed in Budget 2018 is positive and should ensure more people in need of vital healthcare services get the treatment they need.



Child Protection Services

The announcement of an extra €40 million funding for TUSLA can help to develop, support, promote the protection of welfare for children. The over 3,000 children now homeless in Ireland, TUSLA along with a number of other organisations can help alleviate this harrowing issue  by funding out of hours services and the employment of extra staff.


The Charities VAT Compensation Scheme

From 1 January 2018 the Charities VAT Compensation Scheme will take effect. This scheme entitles charities to reclaim VAT based on the level of non-public funding they receive. The total amount of claims in a year is capped at €5 million and claims valued below €500 will not qualify. In order for charities to avail of the scheme they must be registered with the Charity Regulator, have tax clearance and provide and provided audited accounts for the year in question.  

Over the coming year it will be interesting to see how significant an impact this budget will have. It will be the litmus test to reveal how seriously the government are taking the need to increase the services and protection of members in Irish society in need of assistance that is supplied by the charity and not-for-profit sectors.




Upcoming LIKECHARITY Training Workshops

Last week LIKECHARITY ran two very successful days of training for charities; covering fundraising and Data Protection.

On Tuesday the 11th of April, Hannah and Deirdre ran another text-to-donate fundraising workshop. They gave advice and training on how best to use the text-to-donate platform. They covered ComReg compliance, how to pick the best keyword, text-to-donate on social media, case studies and how to build a successful text-to-donate campaign. It was a relaxed but productive morning with plenty of discussion, we’re already looking forward our next workshop in May!

The following day, LIKECHARITY were joined by John Ghent of Sytorus to speak about charities and the GDPR. Sytorus is a recognised leader in pragmatic Data Protection deployment with their services and products, including assessments, implementation, training and support and are experts on the GDPR. Sytorus and LIKECHARITY are partnering together to help charities to be compliant with the GDPR. While The GPDR is receiving lots of coverage in the media, there still remains a lot of confusion around what it means for the charity sector in Ireland. It comes into effect next year and, will bring the most significant and far-reaching changes to how charities approach the protection of citizen’s data in recent history, with the burden of proof now on charities to show how they manage their data. John lead us through a practical charity centred presentation on what the GDPR is, how it will affect charities and what they need to do to prepare for it. He explained the rapid change in data in recent times, how much much different data charities have, from addresses of donors to medical records of service users. He brought us through the new role of Data Protection Officer that most charities will need to bring in and practical solutions to implement the GDPR. Many of the charities commented afterwards they had a much clearer idea of what the GDPR means to our sector and what they need to do get get ready for it. As charities found it so helpful we’re running another two sessions next week.

Here’s a link to our next Data Protection Session and if you’d like information on upcoming LIKECHARITY training events please contact  

Text-To-Donate Coffee Morning workshop

On Wednesday, March 22nd 2017 LIKECHARITY hosted their first “Text-To-Donate Coffee Morning workshop” and it was a great success!

Fresh coffee, tea, and freshly baked pastries awaited our clients for a morning full of ComReg facts and Text-To-Donate fundraising ideas. LIKECHARITY’s very own, Deirdre Mullen and Hannah Doyle took the roles of co-presenters and, lead the knowledgeable, interactive, and fun morning.

Wednesday was such a success that we are happy to announce that LIKECHARITY are organising several more workshops throughout the year. The objective of always keeping their content updated and relevant to the Charity sector. We’ll be running workshops on fundraising and data protection next month.

LIKECHARITY will send invites via email about our next workshops so keep an eye for them!

February in RED

When we think about February we might think about chocolates, roses, and a romantic dinner for two. However, for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Ireland the words WEAR, DARE, and SHARE come to mind, as part of their  “Kiss goodbye to MS” global campaign.

  • WEAR: MS Ireland encourages you to wear your shade of red throughout the entire campaign or just on the 14th of February.  Proudly apply your Ruby Woo, Cherry Lush, Pirate Red, Medieval, Rio Rio, or Heat Wave red lipstick! It’s a time to be bold! The WEAR doesn’t stop at lipstick; “Kiss goodbye to MS” campaign welcomes large or small amount of red!

  • DARE: Wearing red lipstick too easy? Love a good adrenaline rush? MS Skydive care might be just for you! This is your chance to live outside your comfort zone for a great cause. The DARE can be anything; the theme is to dare someone to do something brave!

  • SHARE: This is when participants are given the chance to raise awareness, donations, and most importantly hope. Share your “Kiss goodbye to MS” on any social media with the #kissgoodbyetoms and connect with 11 other organisations who also participate in this global fundraising campaign.

MS Ireland’s overall goal is raising awareness, collecting  donations and most importantly, spreading hope to people affected by MS.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system, which currently over 9,000 individuals in Ireland have been diagnosed with. The average age of diagnosis  is between 20 and 40 years old; however it’s been reported  wide range of symptoms a person can experience has made it difficult to know when to visit a doctor.

MS Ireland is a service driven organisation and has made it their priority to help not only those affected by MS but their families and carers too. MS Ireland currently has 10 regional offices throughout Ireland and 38 voluntary branches, s where teams of professionals provide workshops and activities. These unique establishments are just one way MS Ireland has taken steps towards their vision of  an “Irish society where all people affected by MS live positive and active lives in the community.”

This Valentine’s day you might want to take part in supporting MS Ireland’s work spreading hope and giving that shade red lipstick an opportunity to represent your efforts in raising awareness and hope for all those affected by MS.



youtube video “understanding MS” ::