Cracking the Code: The $19 Mystery in Charity Donations

Sarah Walsh - Author
By

Dec. 19 2023, Published 1:28 p.m. ET

A woman holding money
Source: Getty Images

Woman holding money

The Gist:

  • Charities regularly ask for a $19 donation.
  • This has left many people wondering, why they don't round it off to $20.
  • It turns out there are psychological reasons for the number.
Article continues below advertisement

Have you ever wondered why, when those heartstring-pulling commercials come on, they always ask for $19 a month? Well, you're not alone! In this entertaining exploration, we'll unravel the secrets behind the peculiar number and discover why charities seem to have a soft spot for $19. Get ready for a journey that involves a dash of psychology, a sprinkle of financial strategy, and a whole lot of fun!

What’s with the odd charm of $19?

Charity Organization
Source: Getty Images

Charity Organization

Ever noticed how charities are always shooting for the stars with $19? Turns out, this seemingly random figure is anything but accidental. First things first, let's debunk the myth that it's all about dodging IRS receipt rules.

Article continues below advertisement

Sure, the $19 contribution falls below the $250 threshold, but that's not the main act. According to the maestro of personal financial planning, Russell James from Texas Tech University, charities didn't just stumble upon $19. It's a result of a sort of financial evolution, where this number emerged victorious in the battle of the charity ask.

The secret sauce lies in the oddity of $19. It's not a neat, round figure like $20, which might make you think twice about parting with your hard-earned cash. The oddness of $19, however, makes you pause. It's a mental game!

If it were $19.90 – we'd all round up to $20, right? But $19 multiplied by 12? Well, that's $228 a year, and the trick is, it's not as easy to calculate on the fly. So, by focusing on $19, you're less likely to stress about the yearly total, and voila – you're hooked!

Article continues below advertisement

Many people are wondering why it’s not $9 or $29?

Now, you might be thinking, why not $9 or $29? Great question! According to Rick Cohen, the chief communications officer and chief operating officer for the National Council of Nonprofits, it's a balancing act. A $9 request is like asking for spare change – too low to cover the costs of the charity's programs, the ad itself, and those pesky credit card fees. On the flip side, a higher amount, like $29, might scare off potential donors.

Charities have to hit the sweet spot where the amount is enough to make a difference but not so much that you start questioning your life choices.

So, why not $19.90 then? Well, as we discussed earlier, it's all about the mind game. Make it too complex, and viewers might start doing math gymnastics in their heads, ultimately losing interest in the act of giving.

Article continues below advertisement
Charity sorting
Source: Getty

Charity sorting

And there you have it, dear readers! The $19 mystery is not just a number - it's a carefully crafted dance between psychology and financial strategy. Charities have cracked the code on what gets people to open their hearts and wallets.

Advertisement
More from Distractify

Latest FYI News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.