Ellie Bird23/03/20

4 min read

Altruism 2.0 A Post-Pandemic Theory

We’re exploring how a new era of charitable giving might be just around the corner and how you will need to plan for it.

We’re re-directing much of our research capability to attempt to predict how the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic may re-shape our understanding of fundraising.

In this introduction to our on-going work we’ll cover some insight as to how society may reform its views on capitalism and our ‘self-obsessed’ western culture.

We’re currently living in the upside-down and most organisations are (rightly) in the midst of safeguarding their staff and families. Albeit an anxiety inducing situation, most organisations are now quickly realising that they need to assess and re-plan around this seismic event in order to survive.

The rule book just went out the window (along with our rational purchasing behaviour apparently).

Let’s talk in broad terms - traditional fundraising methods may now be compromised, corporate relationships will be under strain of financial commitments, individual cash giving revenue will cease to exist for the foreseeable future.

Sadly, charities will likely suffer significant challenges in the short-term but it’s not all bad news. It is our hypothesis that the future of fundraising might look much healthier. If we dare to peer into the near future and draw from behavioural and social science, we may get a glimpse of a new world.

We are likely to see a cultural shift to a more prosocial, empathetic and altruistic global community.

1. Empathy born from shared crisis.

It has been evidenced from humanitarian crises such as refugee migrations and civil wars that post-crisis communities display more ingroup and outgroup altruistic tendencies.

A quick overview of the sociological theory of ingroups and outgroups:

Put simply an ‘ingroup’ is a group who we psychologically identify with. ‘Outgroups’ are those who we perceive to be outsiders to our culture or cause.

In context: We view our family, friendship and organisational groups as our ‘ingroups’. During this pandemic we will instinctively protect this group above others.

 ‘Outgroups’ are defined as individuals or groups that could pose a threat to our ‘ingroup’ existence in times of crisis.

 (This is likely a partial explanation to our current challenge with stockpiling. It’s called ‘Parochial Altruism’ meaning we’ll show extreme care and love for our ‘ingroups’, whilst knowingly jeopardising and sabotaging the welfare of other ‘outgroups’)

It is widely observed that post-crisis empathetic concern transcends our identity boundaries and motivates altruistic behaviour toward both ingroups and outgroups.

This shift in collective empathy is most often observed as pro-social behaviour. Individuals demonstrate far greater sharing, helping, donating, co-operation and volunteering tendencies.

After the panic subsides many could find themselves in a ‘moral credit deficit’ as a result of their prioritisation of their ‘ingroup’ over society at large. Rebalancing their morality will be a priority and could be a powerful motivator to act altruistically.

We believe that this observable phenomenon will play a significant and positive role in how society views ethical, moral and charitable organisations in a post-pandemic economy.

What do you need to do?

We suggest reviewing and evaluating all existing messaging and propositions currently in-market. Use this time to quickly recalibrate your forward marketing and digital strategies for a post-pandemic economy. It will be imperative to demonstrate appropriate cultural relevance to the uplift in societal altruism.

2. Post-Traumatic Growth

 A psychological theory called Post-Traumatic Growth may evolve our shared narrative, our worldview and our decision making in the near future.

Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) theory explains how positive personal and societal transformation can occur following trauma.

Trauma is a seismic event for our belief system, and more specifically, it shapes the core beliefs that make up our assumptive worldview. We believe charities will need to be mindful of how our assumptive world may be shattered and force individuals to re-evaluate their core beliefs.

We may find ourselves (if you haven’t already) asking questions about our long-held individual beliefs – our assumptive world.

Beliefs such as:

• How benevolent are people?

• How predictable are events?

• How controllable the world is?

• How vulnerable am I?

• How capable am I?

• What type of person do I want to be?

One likely result from post-traumatic growth could include a substantial uplift in prosocial behaviour – helping, sharing, donating, partnerships and volunteering.

A prosocial culture will undoubtedly create a healthier professional and personal climate. Our ‘self-obsessed’ western culture may look very different, very soon.

Planning Checklist: 5 Key Areas

1. Messaging strategy (interim/pivot)

2. Marketing proposition strategy (post-pandemic)

3. Digital optimisation (donation platform)

4. Digital discovery (SEO/SEM is relevant and optimised)

5. Digital marketing (social content strategy & execution)

We’re offering charities emergency strategy planning over the coming weeks. We’re also providing interim marketing and digital development services to quickly deploy pivot strategies to minimise exposure to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

We’ll be supplying further insights and information to help charities position themselves post-pandemic through our blog and Linkedin page which can be found here.

If this tragic and difficult situation has taught us anything, it’s how fragile our society and our economic infrastructure really is.

We’ll need to build for a different tomorrow. Together.

Discuss your next project with us