The Journal for Social Sciences Research just published a study by Stanford researchers who explored the difference between male and female donors and how they support charities that help the poor.

For some time now, research has demonstrated that women give more to charities that help the poor than men do.  This is often referred to as the “empathy gap.”  Stanford researchers used a made up charity (the Coalition to Reduce Poverty) and surveyed over 1,700 donors, using different messaging to see which marketing appeal had the most impact on men.

The researchers used several pitches.  One stressed effectiveness (“more than 98% of donations go directly to benefit the poor”).  Another focused on conformity (telling survey respondents that lots of other donors had already supported the cause).  A third focused on injustice (focusing on the lack of opportunities available to the poor).  Women responded favorably to all of these messages.  Men–not so much.

Interestingly, the only appeal that caused men to say they would give more was an appeal focusing on self/societal interest.  Using messaging that focused on how helping the poor reduced social problems such as crime caused men to give at a rate comparable to women.

Researchers concluded that focusing on self/societal interest with male donors works because men tend to be driven by “practical considerations” when giving and are less driven to give as an expression of compassion.

I’m not sure if this is good news for men…and the study results might raise the heckles of some women…but it might just help your next appeal if your mission involves serving the poor.