Why people WON’T give you money

Today, instead of talking about what makes people give, let’s take a look at what thwarts giving.
You can find examples of communications that depress giving almost everywhere, in your mailbox, your email, in magazines, billboards, just all over the place.

There are 8 major things some fundraisers do that impede fundraising success. The funny thing about these points is that they are the same reasons why people fail to make friends and build enduring relationships.

Being narcissistic

  • Talking about yourself and your organization instead of focusing on the donor
  • Using the word “I” instead of “you”
  • Failing to be helpful to the donor to meet their needs

Being braggadocios

  • Talking about how great your organization is instead of how great the donor is for being a hero and making the organization great with their support
  • Pretending to be something you’re not

Being impersonal

  • Failing to address the donor individually
  • Failing to use the donor’s name in communications
  • Failing to spell the donor’s name correctly

Being irrelevant

  • Talking only about things that interest you, not them
  • Ignoring the donor’s wants, needs, and desires

Being unclear

  • Beating around the bush instead of telling the donor why you need their money
  • Providing too many options instead of making it simple
  • Making it hard to understand what you want the donor to do

Being snooty

  • Using fancy words instead of colloquialisms
  • Talking down to the donor
  • Confusing the donor with big statistics

Being fake

  • Dodging transparency
  • Employing manipulation or trickery
  • Lying
  • Failing to be real and show your emotions

Being inconsiderate

  • Lacking empathy (for instance, using designs that older people can’t read such as small fonts or white words on dark backgrounds)
  • Making it inconvenient and hard to respond
  • Being pushy, obnoxious, rude or annoying
  • Not listening when a donor asks you to do something
  • Forgetting to say “thank you”
  • Failing to report the impact of the donor’s gift

Can you add to my list?


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Hillel Korin
Hillel Korin
7 years ago

Being a bad listener–key to any good discussion is listening to the donor to learn about the donor’s interests and the donor’s goals for their philanthropy what makes the donor’s heart sing

7 years ago

Good one Hillel. Thanks for your addition to the list!

Sophie Penney
7 years ago

Great thoughts all. I just received a newsletter from a nonprofit yesterday, many of the headlines were in orange script very small, extremely difficult to read.
In the online courses that I teach have students write newsletter copy and six headlines. One of the points that i emphasize is using the word “you” as frequently as possible, as per the advice of Tom Ahern.

Charles Okwemba
Charles Okwemba
7 years ago

Thank you for the insight,it is very true that we have lost donors for luck of understanding them.Keep me posted and updated please.
We value your contributions.Charles

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