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Six Reasons Why Donors Stop Giving to Your Organization

The average donor retention rate tends to stay around 45%.1 There are various reasons why someone who has regularly donated to an organization might suddenly stop giving. Often it is due to mistakes on the part of the organization, and can easily be resolved. Here are six reasons why donors stop giving to an organization that they once supported: 

  1. They did not feel like their contribution mattered. 
  2. Lack of trust in the organization 
  3. Think that they can’t afford it 
  4. Lost interest 
  5. The donation process was too complicated.
  6. No one asked them to give again.
lapsed donor strategies

They Did Not Feel Their Contribution Mattered

We all need to feel like we matter to others, and that what we do is a meaningful contribution. Failing to acknowledge a donation – regardless of the size –  is one of the biggest mistakes an organization can make. Another blunder is to send out a generic mass email without saying thank you to the individual. Nobody wants to feel like a drop in a giant bucket. Another objection that donors voice is that they receive too many appeals for additional donations, making them feel like they are valued solely for their money

Lack of Trust in the Organization

Some donors stop giving because they say they are not sure where their money is going or if it is being used for their intended purpose. The more transparent an organization can be, the more trust will be built. One great way to do this is to break down how each dollar is utilized and show it on your website. For example, UNICEF tells donors that for each dollar they donate, 88.9 cents goes directly to help children, 8 cents goes for fundraising costs, and less than 3 cents is spent on administration.2

They Think That They Can’t Afford It 

Often people will say that they can’t donate to charity because they simply cannot afford it. However, rarely is that true. Even a small amount can go a long way, especially if it is given consistently over time. For example, Feeding America demonstrates on its website how $1 can provide ten meals.3 United Way of Monroe county breaks down donations into amounts like $1/week and $2/week to show how even small gifts can make a massive impact.4 

Lost Interest

In romantic relationships, if you neglect your partner, they will quickly lose interest. It is no different when it comes to engaging donors with your organization. They need to hear why they matter, how they are making a difference, and what you are doing with their investment. Communication is vital in any healthy relationship, so be sure to make it a priority in your donor engagement.

The Donation Process is too Complicated

Broken links, long forms, and outdated systems can all be deterrents to donors. We live in a day when people expect to be able to accomplish a task within three clicks. Making the process simple will enable returning donors.

No One Asked Them to Give Again

Studies have shown that 85 percent of charitable donations are given because someone asked the donor to give.5 That applies to return donors as well. People are busy, and your organization may not be top of their mind. So a sincere ask might be your most effective donor engagement strategy.

We’ve talked about why people stopped giving to your organization – now here are three reasons why they might continue giving or even increase their donations:

  1. Because they caught your vision
  2. You made them feel like family
  3. Realized the impact they could make

They Caught Your Vision

Donors who understand your “why” and believe in your vision will be loyal allies. You can contextualize their experience even more by showing them your shared values. Their emotional connection to the organization will also cause them to be more likely to tell others about you and invite their friends to join them.

You Made Them Feel Like Family

Donors who regularly give almost always have an emotional connection to your team. Even if they do not know you personally, their experience with your organization was positive in a way that made them feel connected to you. Most people want their lives to be engaged in a cause bigger than themselves, and they would prefer to do it in the company of friends. And always make sure you connect with them on a personal level. Individualized notes, phone calls, and asking for their feedback are just a few of the ways to build relationships with donors and make them feel included. 

They Realized the Impact They Could Make

Help your donors realize the importance of their gifts by sharing data and stories that show their impact. When supporters understand how their donation makes a difference, they will be more inclined to give again. Some simple ways to communicate impact are through social media, emails, newsletters, and stories and infographics on your website. The more ways you can show your donors that their gifts matter, the more engaged they will be.

Learn ways to engage lapsed donors and drive new donors

Every dollar matters, and every hour a volunteer spends working with you matters. We’re here to talk with you about how to drive new strategies forward to grow each funnel.

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Related Content


A Guide to Donor Retention, bloomerang.co. Accessed September 23, 2020

Our Finances: Efficient and Verified. unicefusa.org. Accessed September 23, 2020.

The Impact of Dollars Donated to Feeding America. feedingamerica.org. Accessed September 23, 2020.

The Impact of a Dollar. monroeunitedway.org. Accessed September 23, 2020

5 Sara Konrath, PhD. Six Reasons Why People Give Their Money Away, or Not. Psychology Today. November 26, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2020.