The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

7 Reasons Why Donors Give (and 1 Reason They Don’t)

Knowing what motivates your donors to give to your organization is vital to the growth and longevity of your relationship. Have they been personally affected by the issue? Are they eager for ways to give back to their community? Is it part of a family tradition, or did they learn about you through their social networks?

What Motivates Donors

People act from the heart, not the head. Yes, your nonprofit has to show that it’s a good steward of donor money and you need to show where all that generosity is going, but your appeal must contain more than numbers and pie charts. These are the top 7 reasons donors give, according to a survey Network for Good conducted among 3,000 donors.

If you don’t have an easy way to grow your relationships with your donors, check out Network for Good’s simple, smart fundraising software.

1. They’re mission-driven.

Donors say: “I know there is a need for the nonprofit’s mission in my community and I know it does good work.”

Donating to charity feels good. Scientific studies have proven that generosity stimulates dopamine, which creates similar brain activity in the regions connected to the experience of pleasure and reward. Ready to learn more? Download “How to Motivate and Inspire Donors” now!

2. They trust your organization.

Donors say: “I believe the nonprofit will use my gift to stabilize or expand programming.”

Donors come to your nonprofit because they believe in your mission. They stay with you because you prove yourself worthy of their trust and commitment. Transparency and dependability are key. When you say you’re going to do something, be true to your word.

3. They get to see the impact.

Donors say: “The nonprofit communicates about the impact of giving by sharing program outcomes.”

When donors feel their gift has a direct impact on improving a situation, they feel empowered. Share specifics with your donors about what their gifts support. Detailed information about what you’re accomplishing as a direct result of donations gives donors confidence.

4. They have a personal connection to your cause.

Donors say: “I know someone who benefitted from the nonprofit’s work.”

For many donors, charitable giving is highly personal. Donors who give because they’ve seen your impact firsthand are incredible advocates for your cause. If you aren’t asking donors why they give, you might miss out on these stories and opportunities to spread the word about your mission. Use your fundraising software to send a donor survey, then use this information to send highly personalized communications. Get in touch to hear how Network for Good’s fundraising software customers inspire their donors.

5. They want to be part of something.

Donors say: “I want to be associated with the organization and its brand.”

Donating is an emotional act, and people connect more to personal stories than statistics or broad statements. Put a human face on your facts and statistics, and get to the heart of the matter. Share that with your donors so they can connect with your work on a personal level.

6. You’ve caught their attention.

Donors say: “I see the organization online and on social media.”

The power of social media combined with the ease of online giving has contributed to the rise in popularity of peer-to-peer giving. The more people see their peers involved in a cause, the more likely they are to participate and donate. Plus, participating in social campaigns is fun.

7. They want tax benefits.

Donors say: “I want the tax deduction.”

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will impact every individual and organization. Nonprofits are watching how the standard deduction increase and elimination of personal exemptions will affect charitable giving. Although we won’t know for a few years the lasting impact these changes will have, we know that altruism is a driving factor for why people donate. Continue to make your case for change to keep donors inspired by your work.

And the #1 reason why donors stop giving…

They don’t know how their gift is being used.

Keep your donors in the loop! Vary your communications so that you’re engaging donors more than simply when you ask for money. Send an update on a campaign that congratulates them on helping you reach your goal. Make sure they know you couldn’t do it without them.

Network for Good’s simple, smart fundraising software was created to help small nonprofits build stronger donor relationships. Learn more about how we can help you reach your fundraising goals sooner here.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018 and has been revamped and updated with new fundraising insights. 

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About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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