Using Psychology to Understand Why and When People Donate (and Why and When they Don’t)

Using Psychology to Understand Why and When People Donate (and Why and When they Don’t)

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 16 12:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 16 1:15 PM (Eastern)

Last year, University of Oregon psychology professor Paul Slovic released a study showing that when you introduce facts about how big a problem is, people are demotivated to help. For example, people will donate to help feed a starving girl, but if you tell them there are millions of starving children just like her, they are less likely to donate. This is not just a “heart vs. head” situation. It is instead feelings negating other feelings. Even if you use a powerful personal story that in-and-of-itself motivates people to help, the mere introduction of facts about the big picture causes people to lose the “warm glow” feeling of helping, feel overwhelmed and choose to disengage. What does this mean for online organizing, the media and even progressive funding, and how can we better understand this phenomenon to become more effective agents for change?


Ginny Simmons

Ginny oversees digital strategy at FitzGibbon Media. She has more than a decade’s experience leading online advocacy for some of the country’s biggest nonprofits. Previously, Ginny managed grants for gun violence prevention and digital organizing at the Joyce Foundation. In 2012-2013 Ginny served as the New Media Director for Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Executive Director of the Second Chance on Shoot First Campaign, which worked to reform Stand Your Ground laws across the country. In 2010-2011, Ginny served as the Managing Editor at U.S. Department of Energy. From 2006-2010 Ginny was the U.S. New Media Director at the ONE Campaign. In 2005, Ginny created the first blog written by a death row inmate, an online innovation that generated national and international media attention to questions of innocence in the case. She was raised in New Hampshire, graduated from Georgetown University, and lives in Washington, DC.


Garth Moore

Garth Moore

Garth is ONE’s US Digital Director, managing digital strategies and social media and managing ONE’s US/Canada website. He previously worked at 1Sky, a climate advocacy organization and the ASPCA. he has worked as a consultant for Charity Dynamics, the ACLU, and Changing Our World.

Garth has degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the University of New Mexico. He loves following nonprofits, social/political causes, baseball, literature, and music on social media.

Toby Thompkins


Toby is the Vice President of Community Initiatives and Global Partnerships at Tides.

Toby designed, developed, and launched The New Majority Opportunity (NMO) Leadership platform. This platform is Tides new infrastructure resource to convene, consult, and coach leaders in communities, corporations, foundations, non-profits, and governmental organizations throughout the US and Global South. We help our clients create environmentally and socially sustainable community based growth, prosperity and social justice impacts that leverage the assets, identities, and preferred futures of emerging new majority communities and their Diasporas throughout the US and Global South.

Toby has held executive positions with Arthur Anderson and Co., Kraft General Foods, Baxter Healthcare, and Amoco Oil. He brings to Tides over 25 years’ of experience working across nonprofit, for profit, and international development sectors as an executive, leadership coach and organizational development consultant. He has worked with a broad range of leaders including CEOs, Heads of State, country managers, grassroots activists and advocates.

Mr. Thompkins is a best selling author, speaker and journalist on leadership, creativity and innovation, managing change, and cultural diversity. While living and working in Ghana he led a USAID public private partnership to empower local mining communities to effectively respond to the consequences of surfacing gold mining. He also moonlighted as the Africa correspondent for Ebony/Jet magazines. Toby possesses an M.P.A. and undergraduate degree in psychology and political science. He lives in New York City.

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