08/08/2012 02:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Giving Gifts To Charity Donors Turns Them Away: Study

Not sure what to give potential donors to entice them to cut you a nice, big check? Try nothing.

A recent study conducted by Yale researchers George Newman and Jeremy Shen concluded that gifts may actually deter potential donors from opening up their wallets, reports. Because when donors set their eyes on that white porcelain mug that they will get in exchange for a $50 pledge, they’ll experience the negative “crowding out” effect. The present will bring on feelings of selfishness and wash away those warm feelings of benevolence, leading them to to contribute less than average.

But you don’t necessarily have to leave your potential donors with bupkis, the researchers found.

If, for example, you give a potential donor a bag bearing the nonprofit’s logo with a card suggesting that toting it around could raise awareness, that may ward off the “crowding out” issue and encourage them to give, the study concluded. Another option is sticking with the tried-and-true method of direct mailing. When contributors get free address labels or a card in the mail, they’ll likely feel the urge to reciprocate the gesture and make a donation.

While the study didn't address how giving thank-you gifts after a donation is made, we're pretty sure that's not the time to consider skimping.

Such a nod of appreciation can come in the form of something as simple as a thank-you note, an invitation to an event or an elaborately produced rap.

Giddy college students at Bowling Green State University took the spinning-rhymes route after generous donors gave $32 million to build up the college’s sports center.

Basketball player Mickey (Rosco) Blair rapped about each of the three major donors who made cameos in the video.

For Kermit Stroh, who gave the second largest gift in university history, Blair let him know just how well he'll be remembered.

"Kerm Stroh came back in the 60s, looked around, thought this place was nifty. He gave a cool 8 mill, his name is sure to survive, because you can see it in lights from the 75"