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  • Writer's pictureSara Kuehl

Price Anchoring: How to Encourage Higher Donations

One-Minute Reads: Explore the psychology of nonprofit marketing, one principle at a time

Stacks of coins that show increasingly higher donations

Who doesn't love a good sale?

pants on sale showing price anchoring with original price next to sale price

You find that perfect pair of pants, and the price tag makes you grin: originally $65.00, on sale for $32.50. What a deal!

Before you know it, you've added the pants to your cart and you're checking out.

That's the power of price anchoring.

Anchoring is a cognitive bias toward relying on the first piece of information we get. This initial detail becomes the point of reference for information that comes after.

Looking at the pants you found on sale, the original price anchors your perception of what the pants are worth. That's why it feels like you're getting a great deal when you see the sale price next to the original price.

So what does anchoring have to do with nonprofit marketing?

Instead of anchoring product prices, you can anchor gift amounts to encourage supporters to give more.

Take a look at the default selections on the Humane Society's donation page. They set $40 monthly gifts as the anchor—what all the other gift options are compared to. So if a donor was planning to make a one-time gift of $25, they may consider increasing their donation closer to $40 or making it a monthly gift.

Example of price anchoring on the Humane Society of the U.S.'s donation page

Anchoring also works in solicitations. Ask prospects for a specific amount to shift the focus to how much they would like to give, rather than their willingness to give at all. Or ask current donors for an amount slightly higher than their previous gift.

For help applying this principle, contact a freelance nonprofit copywriter.

🧠 How to Use Anchoring: Set slightly higher gift amounts as the point of reference


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