Often funds go begging for a recipient organization because prospective donors are not convinced that they should give. People give for very different reasons yet donors are often treated like they “should” give simply because the nonprofit is worthy. Think about this—from almost any community in the country there are dozens of nonprofits within a 30-minute drive. Your mission may resonate with your stakeholders but you are not the only way to make a difference in that mission field; never think you have cornered the market.
Every nonprofit needs to study its different stakeholder groups—service recipients, family/friends of service recipients, local businesses, community members, foundations with similar goals, alumni, etc—and realize that motivations among and even within those groups will differ. All may want to see your organization succeed yet have one or more very different reasons to donate. Common reasons why people/businesses give beyond a tax break:

  • Familiarity with the need
  • To give back to the community
  • Peer pressure
  • Religious reasons
  • Win/win partnership
  • Name recognition/notoriety
  • Cause-related marketing
  • Civic rent
  • Feeling of self-worth
  • Surety that donation will be used effectively

A key point is that there are exchange relationships with every stakeholder group that can only be developed if you take the time and effort to know what motivates them. There might be donors who could care less about an event but would double their donation if asked their opinion about how your organization is accomplishing goals; you will never know if you treat them like any other donor in your pre-determined levels of value. Donor dollars belong to them and donors have a choice of where to allocate their funds; embrace the challenge of determining what donors want.