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.

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



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!

Running For A Cause

Since 1980, thousands of runners have lined up every October to complete the impressive feat of running 26.2 miles through Dublin.  This Sunday at 9:00 the gun goes off, and 19,500 participants will take to the streets for the historic SSE Dublin Marathon.

People choose to run a marathon for a number of reasons.  Some are running to place and receive a prize.  Some have trained for weeks, months, years with plans to complete  their first marathon and prove to themselves that they are capable.  Some have run marathons for decades.  Surely at least one poor soul is running because of some bet he lost in a pub months ago.  And then there are some running for something bigger than them- Some are running for charity.   

Fundraising for charities through races has become wildly popular. Participants can run to support a charity, and family and friends can sponsor them, raising money for the cause.  Often race organisers will reserve entries for participants supporting charities.  Often charities will give out matching t-shirts or headbands to identify its supporters.  It is a fantastic way to spread awareness about an issue and to raise money for the cause.  For a lot of race participants, the benefit to completing the marathon is two-fold, first is the personal triumph, and also the knowledge that they were able to help a cause as well.

This Sunday hundreds of participants will be fundraising for Irish charities.  The Dublin Marathon has partnered with EveryDayHero, which is a website designed to assist people in raising funds for charities.  Since 2007, the website has helped raise over €100 million for nonprofits around the world.  Their website can be found here.

There will be dozens of charities represented at the event this year.  Barnardos Children’s Charity, Concern Ireland and the St. James’s Hospital Foundation are three charities that fundraise through the marathon.

Often called the “friendly marathon,” the race is known to have an excellent turnout of spectators and supporters lining the course.  If you get the chance it’s a brilliant event to attend.  It’s a high energy atmosphere with people cheering all around.  Remember to look for the runners representing a charity and be sure to cheer just a little louder.


LIKECHARITY’s Journey to €6 Million

Our success lies in the joining of the generosity of Ireland and the simplicity of sending a text message.

As of last week LIKECHARITY has raised €6 million for charities through text message donations!

Our story began 4 years ago when Tadhg O’Toole and John Kyne saw a gap between charities and potential donors.  Text-to-donate campaigns were not popular because cell service providers were not able to effectively set up individual campaigns for Irish charities.

This problem lead to a solution. Kyne and O’Toole dubbed this solution LIKECHARITY, an intermediary between charities and the public that makes donating to an organisation as easy as sending a text message.

Since we unveiled our text-to-donate platform, over 300 charities have used the service, not only in Ireland but in the UK and United States as well.

Chief Operating Officer John Kyne explained that they never imagined the service would be so successful.  

“It wasn’t until Majella O’Donnell’s segment on the Late Late Show when she shaved her head in an effort to raise donations for the Irish Cancer Society.  It was such an emotional segment and she gave great context to the the issue at hand.”  

O’Donnell’s fundraising stunt was able to captivate a huge audience.  Over 15% of viewers donated via text message to the Irish Cancer Society.  Overnight the organisation received €500,000.  

This was when our little startup realised its potential, and more importantly realised that the generosity of Ireland is limitless.  We have gained fame from viral campaigns over the years which boosted donations tremendously; but just as important are the small charities we work with who utilise our platform so well.  Charities like Lauralynn and Jack and Jill are two children’s hospices that use our mobile donation platform extremely efficiently.

“We’re just the intermediary,” says Kyne.  “The real story is the people who donate and the brilliant charities who do such great work.”

We saw a huge amount of donations for Haiti hurricane relief this past week. This sent us over the €6 million mark in text message donations.  Fittingly, this surge was due to the Late Late Show, as retired rugby player Paul O’Connell went on air and urged viewers to donate to the disaster stricken country.


Exciting Changes at LIKECHARITY

In LIKECHARITY, we are always aiming to give charities the best experience possible when fundraising with us. With this aim we are building a new bespoke account management system for charities and we’ve also expanded our product range.

This week we were delighted to launch to charities the first stage of our new Account Management system. This first stage will allow charities to see clearly how much they’ve raised by each network, how each of their keywords are raising in real time and financial information. Over the next few weeks, charities be able pick competition winners, update their details, see all our useful guides and much more. We’re building the system ourselves so we can design it to suit the charities’ needs.

Charities can log on by clicking Login on the website menu.So we’d love to hear your feedback! What do you think? What can we improve?

As well our existing services such text competitions and DRTV, over the past few months we’ve expanded our product range for charities. You can find  a full list of our products under services on the website.

Some new services include, SMS Sponsorship which enables friends and family to sponsor active fundraisers for a charity event with a simple text message. It works like a sponsorship card.

Our Bulk SMS Service lets charities contact their supporter via SMS. Whether charities are asking supporters to text in a donation, inviting them to an event or looking for volunteers. Bulk SMS is inexpensive and effective.

We also offer Online Marketing. We produce content in house and execute high-performing online awareness and fundraising campaigns.

If there any other services or products you’d like to see, please get in touch and we can have a chat about. We can help you fundraise and see astonishing results for whatever budget you have.

You can email me or call me directly on 01 557 24 25

What can DRTV do for your charity?

Throughout the life of advertising there have been many different ways to utilize marketing to convey a message to the masses. One of the most trusted has been television ads. When television ads made their debut in 1955, they changed the world of advertising drastically. Recently there has been a different type of dramatic shift in advertising. Companies are focusing more on digital than on TV but is this the right decision? Isn’t there something to be said for campaigns hitting all the areas that consumers participate in? Through research and our own personal experience here at LIKECHARITY we think that it’s vital to maintain TV ads and campaigns while make them consistent throughout for our clients campaigns.

There is a big misconception that TV advertisement is not effective anymore; however, it is quite the opposite. According to Joel Rubinson (p. 220), over the past 15 years, TV has not declined in its effectiveness at generating sales lift and appears to be more effective than either online or print at generating brand awareness and recognition. This is something that here at LIKECHARITY we see to be as true as well. Not only do we help charities increase their donations we increase their brand awareness. We utilize Direct Response Television (DRTV) to capitalize on the viewer's emotions which leads to an increase in donations for our clients. Without utilizing DRTV we would be failing to capitalize on an entire section of the population. DRTV ads are suppose to create an emotional pull the very first time they are viewed versus the consumer ads that rely on repetition.

For many years trying to get the right measurements on how to successfully track TV ads has been a struggle and may play a large role in why there is such a misconception surrounding this type of marketing. Fortunately as technology has developed, so has tracking advertising success. The tracking systems allow the advertisers to gauge what ad is effective, what time to air the advert based on when it is most effective, when it has the highest response rate and when your target audience is most likely to view your ad.

Like any kind of advertising and marketing, each piece has a specific target audience. By eliminating TV advertisement and strictly replacing it with digital, there is a huge part of the market that isn’t being capitalized on. Certain generations tend to interact with TV more than they do digital and vice versa. Of course there is overlap, which is a good thing! The more consumers recognize your brand, the more likely they are to consume your product or in the case of LIKECHARITY’s clients, donate to your organization.

There is not only one “right” way to utilize marketing and advertising but there is a lot of research that specifies which methods have proven to be the most efficient and effective. Next time your organization or charity is creating their marketing strategy, be sure to consider including DRTV!

How to Capture the Millennial Consumer

By 2020, a new generation, Millennials, (generally considered to be anyone born between 1982 – 2004), will become the most prevalent generation in the workplace. It’s important as an organisation to understand that Millennials are not to be overlooked. They will soon be the generation with the most disposable income and, according to Bazaar, Millennials will have the most spending power of any generation. If your organisation is able to catch their attention and secure their donations while they are still relatively young, you have the potential to make lifelong consumers of them.

Millennials are often misunderstood as a generation that is self-centred and self-absorbed. But contrary to popular belief the millennials have proven to be quite the opposite. A staggering 84 percent gave to charity in 2014 according to research by the group Achieve. Millennials are also considered the most educated and culturally diverse group of all generations (Forbes).
There are a few things that stand out to Millennials when they consider buying a product or donating money. It’s important to ensure your organisation appeals to them through channels / modes of communication that suit their lifestyle. Here are a few specific triggers that grab millennials attention. 


•    Millennials rely heavily on reviews and they don’t care who the review comes from. If you are a charity, ensure that there are places where people can comment about the great work you do. This is likely to capture millennials’ attention.  

•    This is the first time in the world that a generation has grown up with modern technology. They are proficient and expect to use it in everything they do. It’s important to appeal to their proficiency. Make sure your website is user friendly; that it is easy to purchase your products, donate to your cause or get more information, etc. Being able to access information quickly and easily is important.

•    Millennials are accustomed to a world where, when they give their input, it’s taken into consideration. It is important to show your clients, especially millennials, that you hear what they are saying and are working towards a solution. They like to see change. Change is no longer taboo with them as it is in some other generations.

•    Being in the know is something this generation strives to do. By making your organisation as transparent as possible, you will be very appealing. Millennials like to know where their money is going and what it is being used for.


All in all, Millennials are the generation of the future. Luckily for us there are numerous studies done on the trends of this generation making their behaviour somewhat predictable. It is important as an organisation to do your own research on the topic, and include some market research to see how Millennials directly influence your business. At least now you have a good place to start.