The psychology of choice and motivation in fundraising

Image of someone holding a credit card

Decision making in fundraising

What influences us to give is multi-faceted. Our interests, concerns and demographics, all play their part.

However, when it comes to making choices, there are some key theories from psychology that are actively contribute to the decision making – and these apply to fundraising too.

Fundraising that understands a donor’s psychological motivations, and tailors the right emotional approach to persuade supporters to give, can deliver better results in the form of higher engagement and more income. See how our work within the charity sector helps organisations increase donations.

But what about when you replace a human conversation with digital devices?

It’s important to consider how your online giving or digital contactless devices also reflect good fundraising practices such as offering choice, or using motivations to give.

image showing donation station with branded stand

How to use fundraising psychology in digital devices

Think about your cause, and your campaigns.

Are there any particular projects that showcase the real impact your charity or organisation is having, through convincing donors of the need for giving?

One approach – the identifiable victim effect suggests focussing on a single person and their needs, bringing donors closer to your charity’s mission.

Going further, a device can then demonstrate through graphics, messages and statistics, how the situation will change for this person, plus others as a result of donations given.

This way your digital fundraising has the same compelling messages and motivators to give, as your face-to-face interactions with supporters.

Using a Donation Station to communicate with supporters

Taking our Donation Station contactless giving device as an example, here’s how the approach we’ve discussed above looks like in reality.

A Skinny Donation Station has imagery and messaging spaces top and bottom of the touchscreen, where you can place information that introduces your cause.

Remember the motivating factors we mentioned above?

We’ve designed the device to motivate users by offer of choice; compelling supporters to give through three factors of influence:

On screen, we add Attract Loops, or looped static images, designed to tell the story of our causes. Successful designs use imagery that connects with a charities service users and clients, plus some quantifiable statistics to help a device user understand what impact their support will have.

Next, there’s a selection of Causes to choose from, so supporters can make their own selection of where their money should be spent.

Finally, the Donation Amounts are deliberately set with three figures (plus a fourth ‘other’ free input option). 

Most people choose the middle button, so to boost average donations, we recommend placing your typical suggested amount on the far left – increasing the chance that supporters will add more to their intended donation.

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Book a demo

Ask us for a demo of our Donation Station, or tell us what you want to achieve with your fundraising. We love to talk Gift Aid!

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Contactless device in use

Who are GWD?

We help socially-minded organisations transition to digital systems, building stronger relationships through impactful products and services.

Our experience goes back two decades, with a foundation building and providing critical digital services and products for the financial services and retail industries.

With a long-proven ability to handle challenging projects and a team of trusted experts, we work hard to solve problems and deliver change that helps others.

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Attract Loop

Part of the Donation Station’s key visual design features, the Attract Loop are screensavers purposefully designed to run on a loop. Created by GWD with your input, they use visuals or photography, plus an emotive call to action, to catch the donors interest and lead them towards donation through interactive storytelling.


The entire Donation Station is open to branding, from external display to on-screen logos, photography and your brand look and feel.

Our design support service can adapt visuals and graphics to suit your brand.

Wifi or 4G/5G Data SIM

Where you need it, the Donation Station can be supplied with Data or Wifi connectivity.

If using the device in a remote location or at an event, it’s worth considering the signal strength available – GWD can support you to ensure there’s a smooth running operation on the day.

Safe & Secure

All data is transmitted with full encryption, so you can be sure that all individual donor data is safely used, in accordance with GDPR regulations.

Choice of Donations

Giving choice on where the donor wants their money to be spent empowers them further. The Donation Station asks this question and gives charities freedom to present their causes and activities as separate campaigns.

Gift Aid Up Sell

An integrated Gift Aid function on all Donation Stations helps boost fundraising a further 25%. This tax relief can be claimed from HRMC from any donor that supplies their contact details and makes a declaration, as a UK tax payer. The Donation Station is designed to encourage and secure this additional fundraising income easily, through simple reports that can be downloaded and submitted to HMRC as part of a Gift Aid claim.