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Why People Aren’t Donating to Your Nonprofit

Allison Carpenter

by Allison Carpenter

Fundraising

06.13.2018

Donations: they’re the force that keeps your NPO’s ship afloat. When they start to dry up, though, things can get rocky pretty quickly. If things have been a bit quiet on the giving front lately, you might find yourself wondering why people aren’t donating to your nonprofit.

The truth is, there are many potential reasons for this, and not all of them boil down to “nobody cares about your cause.”

Here’s what you need to know to identify the cause of the problem, and set things back on the correct path:

Why People Aren’t Donating: 5 Factors to Consider

Ensuring consistent donations is essential for your survival as a nonprofit. On the same token, though, it’s common for nonprofits to go through dry spells that can leave them wondering where all the support has gone.

With this in mind, consider these factors to solve your donation issues.

1. People are Afraid They’ll Regret it

Donating money is often accompanied by a sense of loss.

According to psychological research, people feel more regret over past actions than they do over past inactions, even if the consequences are the same. To put this another way, people are more likely to feel regret about things they’ve done than things they haven’t done.

As such, it seems less risky to not give money to an NPO than it does to an NPO. With this in mind, you’ll need to create a few failsafe methods to get around donor objections and prove that supporting your cause is a worthwhile endeavor,

Providing social proof and positive outcome stories are two good ways to do this. You can also offer something in return for donations, so people feel like they’re “giving to get.” When you present your organization as trustworthy and upstanding, you’re better able to get around donor objections and reduce the fear of loss.

2. The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect is the reason nobody cleaned up that mess on the kitchen counter: they assumed someone else would do it. This is annoying in real-life, but it can be devastating for nonprofits. If your would-be donors are refusing to act simply because they’re assuming someone else will provide the support you need to achieve your objective, it can spell trouble for you. Break the barrier by personalizing your asks and addressing people (and their reasons for giving) directly. Address your recipients by name and thank them for their past involvement, if it’s relevant and practical.

3. Donor Efficacy

Donors today believe that all donations are important donations, and they’re right. But they also want to know that what they’re contributing is making a difference.

After all – why would they donate if they don’t feel like their donations are making a difference? Help them be sure of this by affirming the value of every gift. In one study that looked at door-to-door fundraisers, researchers found that adding the phrase “every penny will help” increased donations dramatically. This is known as the Legitimization of Paltry Donation.

Make use of this in your marketing by making it clear that even small donations can (and do) help. You might even want to pull back the veil on your average donation amounts to encourage people who can’t make major donations to give anyway.

4. The Paradox of Choice

The paradox of choice is just that – a paradox. It states that too many choices make it hard to choose. Think about times when you’ve experienced this in your own life: walking into some fancy coffee shop and being confronted by 80 latte choices, or wandering through a huge box store having forgotten entirely what you came for.

Get around the paradox of choice in your NPO marketing by simplifying giving options and encouraging a few different giving levels so deciding how to support you gets easy. Keep it limited to about 3-4 giving levels to make choices manageable and obvious.

5. You’re Not Marketing Where They Spend Time

Is your website, SEO, and social media up to par? Is it easy to donate to your cause? If not, fix it! At the end of the day, one of the primary reasons people might not be giving to your organization is simply that it’s tough to do so, or that your marketing strategy isn’t taking their preferences into account.

With this in mind, meet up with a qualified web design firm that can help you add an online giving platform or build a mobile app to help people engage with your NPO.

Secure More Consistent Donations – Starting Now

If you’ve been wondering why people aren’t donating to your NPO, the answers could vary. By exploring these five potential causes, you can generally solve most donation dry spells and keep your NPO moving up in the world.

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