Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit …

A  great study by social scientist Adam Grant has just been bought to my attention .  Grant carried out a study on motivation and productivity in a university fundraising call centre in Canada.

He separated fundraisers into three groups and prior to calling they were to;

  1. Read stories written by other employees describing personal benefits of the job (personal benefit condition)
  2. Read stories written by students who’d benefited from fundraising (task significance condition)
  3. Control Group did not read any stories at all

Grant measured the number of pledges and donation amounts one week before the above and one month after. Group 1 performed exactly the same. Group 2 earned more than twice the amount of weekly pledges and doubled the value (donations went from $1,228 a week to $3,130!)

While at the university, Grant saw a sign on someone’s desk that said:

 “Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit – you get a warm feeling no one notices.”

 So he set up a second test to thank fundraisers. One group did the job as normal. The other half were visited by the director of annual giving who said “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the University.” Just 16 words difference between the two groups. The first group (obviously) performed as normal, the second made 50% more calls in the following week!

We definitely see a difference in results when charities come in to do fundraiser engagement sessions with our fundraisers.  We are experts at training, coaching and motivating our fundraisers, but nothing can match hearing appreciation directly from the beneficiaries or thanks from the charity in person. It brings fundraisers closer to the cause and always drives more passionate conversations and better results.

Thanks to Charlie Hulme for pointing me in the direction of this study. You can read more in the bookGive & Take’ by social scientist Adam Grant  

 Thanks for reading, Bethan

Follow Bethan on twitter @bethanalys


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