Why People Give Motives for and objections to making donations

Donors have numerous motives for giving, and just as many reasons why they do not. You may not know every donor’s motives or objections, but it pays to be aware of the most common reasons people do and do not give. As you gain more experience in fundraising, you will be better at speaking to motives and overcoming objections.

Why Donors Give

  • They believe in the cause for which you are raising money. Never forget or under estimate someone’s belief in what you are doing. It should be at the forefront of any request for funding.
  • They have confidence that you can achieve to goals of the campaign. A successful fundraiser can convince donors that he or she can actually accomplish the goals of the campaign. Your credibly matters. That is one reason that a good campaign plan is necessary.
  • They believe their support makes a difference in the campaign. No one wants to donate if it does make a difference. You must assure donors that every contribution helps get you to the final goal.
  • They have a personal loyalty to you or your organization. Your friends and loved ones may give because they want to support you personally. That is a 100% legitimate motive for support.
  • They expect to receive some personal benefit from the success of your efforts. Some business donors will support an effort to adopt an ordinance or pass a voter initiative because they expect to benefit financially from the industry that is allowed. That is OK, so long is everyone is transparent and up front. However, it is not OK to cater your campaign to the financial interests of donors. Remember that money should follow the campaign. The campaign should not follow money.
  • They take pride in being seen as someone who supports your campaign. Some donors give because they want to be recognized. Be sure those donors get some public acknowledgment for helping. Many campaigns list donors online or elsewhere.

Why Donors Do Not Give

  • They do not support the goals of the campaign. No one is going to give money to support a campaign if they are opposed to its goals. Do not waste time and energy trying to convert opponents. Move on to more fertile ground.
  • They perceive that they cannot afford to donate. Everyone have a different idea of how rich or poor they are. All you can do is ask for support and let them decide. If someone objects to an amount for which you ask, try asking them for an amount that works for them.
  • They do not believe their support actually matters to the campaign. Donors do not like to give money unless it matters. If they think their support will not make a real difference, they may not give.
  • They do not think the campaign plan will work. Donors usually will not give if they do not think the campaign will succeed. Your campaign plan should address this issue. Do not let donors see you as a lost cause.
  • The do not trust or like the fundraiser or the organization. Your credibility matters. If someone doesn’t like or trust you, you are unlikely to get their financial support. In some cases, you might be able to correct a misperception with a personal phone call or visit. However, do not spend a lot of time and energy trying to settle misunderstandings. Unless there is a significant amount of money on the line, you are better off looking for other donors.
  • They have conflicting loyalties. Some donors already support other causes and organizations. They might see your campaign as one that conflicts with those causes or organizations, or they might see you as competing for scare funds with efforts to which they are committed. Try to explain to these donors how your effort compliments other campaigns or organization, if that is the case. You may also want to explain why your effort should be a priority right now. Never denigrate the cause or organization to which a donor is committed. This will only burn bridges.
  • They do not believe that the campaign will meet their expectations of personal benefit. Some donors will not support an effort unless they can benefit from it. This is an unfortunate reality in fundraising. You might be able to identify a tangible or intangible benefit for these donors, but it is probably wise not to waste too much time trying to persuade them.
  • They have certain criteria or requirements for donation, which the campaign does not meet. Institutional donors usually have specific criteria for making grants or contributions. These might include tax-exempt status, organizational structure/leadership, areas of interests, and more. It is unlikely that you will persuade an institutional donor to change their policies on making grants – although it cannot hurt to ask!