Why Donors Give to Nonprofits and Ministries

A recent report from Gloo and Barna research reveals that in 2022 77% of practicing Christians share the number one reason they choose to give is because of “who I am.” While this may be surprising for some, identity-based giving is something marketers, and social scientists have written about dating as far back as 1995. The most important thing to realize from the study about practicing Christians is that their philanthropic motivation is no different from those who don’t practice any religion. Where donor preferences diverge is often at the root of where someone finds their identity.

Many studies have found that an important factor in deciding whether someone gives to charity or volunteers their time comes down to whether they feel connected to the cause or the people who benefit from the service. Put another way; donors consciously or subconsciously give to nonprofits and ministries when there are personal benefits. Because identity giving is at the root of charitable donation choices, donors’ experiences affect their personal moral ideologies. 

What Motivates Generous Donors?

Donors don’t give money because they’re told to; they give money because they feel compelled to help someone else who needs their support. Therefore, your appeal should include stories and examples demonstrating why people should care about your cause.  Study after study reveals that donors are fairly predictable. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you seek to build your donor base.

Donors Want to Feel Good

Immediate needs often direct donors’ key motivations. They learn that local kids need school supplies, provide some crayons, and receive a dopamine hit. Scientific studies have proven that generosity stimulates dopamine. This causes similar brain activity in the parts of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Giving feels good!!! 

When communicating effectively with your donors, it’s easy to keep the dopamine rolling. Whether you send a newsletter, show your efforts on social media, send thank you cards, or share updates in person, anytime you can engage a donor by reminding them their support is the reason the good things are happening, you will re-affirm their support matters.

Donors Give When They Trust Your Organization

Your donors come to your nonprofit because of their belief in your mission. They stick with you because you’ve earned their trust and respect. You need to be transparent and reliable. Be honest and consistent. You will do well to stay in your mission lane. 

Remember, your donors are saying their identity aligns with your ministry. If you change the “rules” on them, this will feel like a deep betrayal.

Now, it’s important to remember that you will have people who make assumptions about your beliefs and associations when you stay silent, so there may be times when it’s necessary to speak out on a subject. If you have a donor you know will be upset about a position you need to take, go the extra mile and speak with them in person. Your attention to donor care and integrity will, if nothing else, give you peace of mind.

Donors Give When They See the Impact

When donors realize the impact of their gift, they feel empowered. While pie charts and graphs aren’t always the best way to present this information, it may be the moment to do so. Another way to show your donors the impact of their support is through video, photos, and personal letters. Any way you can share specific details in future appeals to donors will help your base of donors motivate others to join in your efforts.

Donors Give When You Grab Their Attention

Social media platforms have helped contribute to the rise in the popularity of peer-to-peer fundraising. The more people who know others who’ve participated in a cause, the less likely they will pass up an opportunity to participate. And, if you’re interested in doing so, then participating in social campaigns is a helpful way to increase your direct impact with a specific giving campaign such as Giving Tuesday.

Donors Want The Tax Benefits

While this is less of a reason in 2022, for wealthy donors, a tax deduction is still something they consider when looking at nonprofits and ministries. So continue to make your case for change to keep donors inspired by your work.

The Number One Reason Donors Stop Giving

Lack of transparency is listed as the number one reason for giving to stop. This speaks directly to poor donor relations and broken trust. Think about it. If you’re doing your due diligence to send newsletters, post on social media, and connect with donors, and someone still says they don’t know where their money is going, that’s really just an excuse.

It’s important to do your due diligence with donors and make sure you’ve covered the basics listed above. When it comes to identity-giving, there is always the chance that a donor no longer believes in the mission of your ministry. This is okay too. People will move on, but when you’re pursuing your calling in partnership with God, he is the only one you need to focus on delighting.

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