Top 5 Reasons Why People Don’t Donate: How to Win Over Them

OCTOBER 27, 2018.

Raising funds for your cause can be like pulling teeth, especially if you’re a new organization or if your last campaign didn’t do well. Sometimes people are reluctant to donate to big, reputable, well-established charities. This is not something you should hold against them; but it is something you need to overcome if you want to raise funds to support your cause.

Now, there are many reasons people don’t donate to charities; let’s start by understanding the mindset behind them and looking at how you can gradually, gently change this mindset to create an environment where these same people will happily donate to you.

1.  Not Enough Financial Resources

The first step to combat this mindset is to give them an option to donate small, affordable amounts. The next statement will be “but then my donation won't make a difference”. This sense of futility one gets when they find out that they can only afford a small amount when the goal is to raise thousands is associated with a sense of guilt about the people they cannot save. So, instead of giving a little, they refrain from giving at all. Explain to them that India has a population of roughly 133.92 crores; if even half of that population donates Rs. 1 to charity, you would still collect around 66.96 crores in charity, which is a lot.

2.  Volunteering/Donating Goods or Services In Lieu Of Making a Donation

Volunteers are special; they are your biggest advocates and they lend you their time free of cost, the same goes for people who donate in kind. In such a case, you might feel that you’ll be asking too much if you ask them to donate, you might even fear them leaving your organization altogether. However, as a fundraiser, it is your job to ask them for financial support. Since they’re working with your organization, you know that these people are philanthropic souls who believe in your cause, so you don’t have to convince them on that front. They already know the feeling of satisfaction you get through selfless giving, so appeal to that.

Here, it is vital that you tailor a campaign just for them rather than sending them the same email you send other donors; this in itself will make them feel special.

3.  Lack of Trust in Philanthropic Organizations

Given the number of frauds being exposed on social media where people cheat people out of money under the guise of NGOs, this mindset is completely valid. Here, you need to convince people of your credibility and it won't be a one-time thing; it doesn’t start with that leads and doesn’t end there. To convince these people of your credibility, you need to build your credibility, both online and offline. Start by having professional-looking profiles and website, use well-organized fundraising techniques, and build your reputation through positive customer interactions. Also, prioritize your donors and volunteers and always show them gratitude; this will make them vouch for you.

However, having a good reputation and a professional attitude is not enough; you need to have proof of it. So, you have to keep all your records up to date (this includes the digital as well as physical paperwork). If you want to go the extra mile, you can publish an annual report; not only does this strengthen your credibility, it also holds you accountable, obligating you to spend responsibly. Testimonial videos from donors and case studies of the people or cause you're helping will also help your case.

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4.  Priority Given to Their Loved Ones

First of all, don’t shame them; if you send them on a guilt trip for wanting to look after their loved ones, the chances of them donating drops down to a grand total of 0%. Start by understanding this mindset; the need to provide for the ones closest to you before looking at others is not selfish, it’s human and it’s called “parochialism”. This is also why people give more to local charities more than international ones.

Here, the best thing you can do is appeal to their empathy; show them that they can donate and spend on their loved ones at the same time and why they should do so. A good way to speak to the empathy of the masses is to use the “Identifiable Victim” approach. It has been proven through research that we, as humans, feel empathy when we hear the story of a particular person as opposed to statistics or general statements. Therefore, if you find one person you're helping through your organization, put their story in words, and present it to potential donors.

For example, if you go to Give India’s donate page , you will notice that almost all of the programs have a single person’s picture along with their story attached to it. These stories are not overly emotional or fake but they are written in a way that the facts they give about the story are, in themselves, emotional enough for the reader to take action.

Again, remember that the idea here isn’t to make them feel guilty about their priorities but to convince them to lend help.

5. The Belief that Organizations Don’t Make a Positive Difference

“If NGOs really do make a difference, why haven’t the world’s problems been solved despite there being so many organizations in place?”

“Why should I give my money to NGOs when they only give 85% of the donations to charity?”

This is certainly a valid question for someone who goes through statistics with an outsider’s perspective. When faced with someone with such opinions, you need to show them the other side of the statistics, explain to them why you need the 25% to go to overhead administrative costs and why NGOs aren’t able to abolish the problems they are set out to solve, try as they may. American entrepreneur, author, and humanitarian activist Dan Pallota perfectly explains the reasons behind these doubts in his TED Talk. The important thing to remember here is to not sound condescending; your goal is not to make them feel stupid or embarrass them for their views, you’re there to educate them and ask for their help.

Another way to get these kinds of people is to tell them exactly where their donations will do or what they are going towards. For instance, Resq Pune has a section in their donation page that has a set amount you can donate and next to it is how that amount will help.

Often times, the reasons given by some people can frustrate you; you know the inner working of NGOs, you know the statistics, you are able to see the bigger picture, so it’s natural to feel like the person standing in front of you, giving you reasons why they don’t want to donate, can sound selfish, ignorant, shortsighted, and naive. But remember that just because you know the things you do, doesn’t mean that they do; maybe they’re not trying to come off as rude, maybe they genuinely believe in those reasons, it is your job to educate them and make them see the bigger picture.

Also, make sure you’re not pursuing them to a point of annoyance. You don’t want your organization — or the NGO sector in general — to be linked to the likes of door-to-door salespeople and cold callers. The main goal, main priority of your fundraising strategy is to create a culture of giving, to make your donors want to give freely and feel good about it, to educate people so that they give out of the good in their hearts, not out of guilt or compulsion.

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