Workplace giving platforms have the opportunity to make giving easier and more efficient for both donors and nonprofits. Many of these platforms offer features such as the ability to make gifts through regular paycheck deductions and employer matching for any contributions.
However, giving on workplace platforms is still mostly reactive, and is often seen by employees as a final administrative step to secure a match rather than as a tool for making more intentional gifts. There is a large opportunity for workplace platforms to help donors structure and manage their total yearly giving.
Goal-setting is a well-established theory of employee motivation that has been shown to improve performance in many contexts. The concept has also been explored in altruistic settings, and has been found to increase donation amounts in end-of-year workplace giving. However, setting goals for philanthropy is not an established practice for most donors, and they often do not receive enough accurate feedback on their typical giving to set a realistic and achievable goal.
Setting goals that are motivating but not discouraging is a common design problem, especially for health and fitness apps. Many of these products incorporate goal levels that adapt to the user’s behavior—increasing or decreasing the goal level based on recent performance. However, health goals are often set and measured on a weekly or daily basis—a much higher frequency than most donors give to charity. If donors are instead setting monthly or yearly giving goals, how might their goals also adapt to keep the user engaged and motivated?
Immediately after making a donation, users are invited to set a goal for the remainder of the year. That goal-setting prompt already includes a visual display of their progress that displays the filled in amount of the donation they just made.
This design leverages an insight from goal gradient theory, which states that there is the tendency to more actively pursue a goal the the closer we are to achieving it. Based on this insight, the first step in effective goal setting should be immediately showing users progress towards that goal—the equivalent of starting a loyalty coffee card with two stamps already filled out.
Users are reminded of their goal ahead of prominent giving moments, such as Giving Tuesday. However, if the user was not on track to hit that goal by a certain point of time, the goal is reduced and the user notified with visual feedback showing them closer to meeting an updated goal.
By reducing the proximity to the goal for donors, this adaptive goal seeks to activate a donor’s achievement drive in pursuing a reachable goal. Conversely, if successful, donors who hit their goal could also be offered a new stretch goal to motivate them to continue giving.