Capital/Endowment Campaign Management

The Psychology of Giving – Why People Give or Don’t Give

At the end of the day, fundraising is like life.  Your best friends are the ones you can most count on to give back to you what you need.   And so it goes with fundraising.  People who are friends of your organization are the ones most likely to give back in a big way.

While we’ve been hardwired since childhood on how to make (and keep) close friends, it is a little trickier in the non-profit world.  The reasons vary why some people get hooked and open their pockets while others give little or nothing at all. It’s important to understand each in order to increase your friends in a difficult economy and competitive fundraising world.

I always prefer to start with the bad news and then move onto the good. Let’s first probe why someone might choose not to give to your organization: The wrong person asking; a lack of “personal appeal” with the appeal; a lack of suggestions on how to give e.g., a suggested amount; giving in installments; lack of follow-up to ensure the gift is fulfilled.

The good news, of course, is that people do give, if for no other reason than it makes them feel good to do so.  Other reasons include:  respect for and belief in the cause; sense of community responsibility; tax benefits; wanting to be immortalized themselves or to memorialize a loved one.

Your ultimate goal has to be not only getting someone to give, but getting that person to be a friend, someone whose gift you can rely on year after year.  Friendship is about chemistry, and correctly matching up solicitors with potential donors is key to establishing good chemistry in the non-profit world.   Stay tuned for a future blog where we discuss just that…