Why do donors give so little?

why do donors give so little-

I heard Mark Phillips talk about this once and I want to wax philosophical on it for a few minutes.

We seem to hear year after year from research like what Penelope Burk does that donors didn’t feel they gave as much to charity as they could the year before.

Why is this?

Put simply: We’re not asking enough of our donors.

We’re not asking them often enough. We’re not asking them for enough money. We’re not giving them enough ways to engage with us more deeply.

On the point of not asking donors for enough money, Mark has a great illustration of this.

category_dollar-a-day

Why do donors give so little? Because we ask them to.

Now don’t think for one second that I don’t think every gift is important, that every donor is important, or that every person who supports a cause with a dollar a day is stupid.

I value all donors.

But we have been part of this misconception that that’s what charity costs: a dollar a day. That’s all a donor needs to give to make a difference and feel engaged.

We have been doing ourselves – and donors! – a disservice by perpetuating this falsehood.

And when it comes to mid-level donors – or potential mid-level donors – who you know I love talking about, this is part of the reason why we have disengaged and uninspired donors in the middle: because we aren’t giving them a special enough opportunity to engage with us.

We aren’t inspiring them with a big problem for them to solve through a big investment.

Donors give us a lot and they are so amazing and we are so grateful.

However, donors seem to be telling us that they aren’t giving as much as they can.

So let’s find ways to inspire a new level of giving among our donors.

And then steward the hell out of ’em so they know how much they mean to us.

~~

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for over nine years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

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4 thoughts on “Why do donors give so little?

  1. Great topic! I have been following your blog for around a year now. The topics are always interesting and relevant in my day to day work. I have been disappointed that lately that many blogs do not actually share any new information. I feel like there isn’t much substance, but rather the post just reemphasizes a common message or issue within the fundraising world. I apologize if this comes off as negative in any way, I just wanted to share my honest feedback. I know you must put so much into the blog and I appreciate the work you do to help support and inform those in the fundraising profession.

    • Hi Shelley! Thanks for your message. Did you mean that MY blog hadn’t been sharing new information lately? I really appreciate the feedback; just wanted to clarify what you were referring to. Let me know more about what you’re looking for. It’s really helpful to me.
      –Maeve

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