The Four Misconceptions Keeping People From Donating To Your Nonprofit

I have some good news, and some bad news. The good news is you have an amazing charitable program on your hands, capable of helping many people. The bad news… not everyone thinks so.

Over the years, much of the public has developed a skeptical view of organizations, often fuelled by rumours – or worse, a bad experience from another charity. You know what they say about one bad apple…

Of course, that’s not your fault. But, it becomes a BIG problem for you once you realize you have to be the one to change those false mindsets. While there are many reasons and circumstances as to why someone may not be donating, there are a few recurring themes. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about donating that potential donors are talking about with everyone but you.

  1. “Why donate? Nothing is going to change anyway.”

It’s important to be very clear about what the goals are with each money-raising project. Hesitation is common when people are asked to donate to a cause with a BIG end goal. For example, if your long term goal is to end homelessness, it may be hard for some to see their donation as impactful. The possibility seems out of reach, so they automatically discard the idea. Try breaking down the steps you have in place to achieve that plan. This makes it easier to digest for a potential donor, also proving to them that you are serious about the commitment it takes to achieve the goal.

2. “Why donate? I don’t have enough to make a difference.”

Many people believe that in order to donate to an organization, they should give an extraordinary amount of money. While this is obviously not the case for charity planners, it can’t hurt to reinforce the facts. Remind potential donors that every bit helps. Offer positive encouragement about the impact of every dollars, like how $5.00 is a meal for someone in need. This will help get rid of any ‘small donation’ guilt that discourages those small donors. It may also be a good idea to implement level options for donations. For example, if money deposits can be made online, make a list of amounts to choose from like this:


This lets people know small donations are appreciated, but they can always contribute more if preferred. We’ll be posting a study about this later that will show how to lay out donations in order to increase the amount given.

3. “Why donate? It’s not going to the people who need it the most.”


As we said above, there’s always a couple bad apples in the batch. Yes, there have been corporations in the past who’ve been dishonest about where their donor’s dollars are going. You can’t change that, but you can work on educating your donors through transparent communication.

At the end of the day, people appreciate honesty. There will always be overhead costs when trying to pull off a campaign – but as long as you invite your audience into the numbers, they won’t feel betrayed. Let them know their donations are going into the right hands, explain costs in detail, and why the percentages are allotted as they are. Take supporters along for the ride.

4. “Why donate? This doesn’t affect me.”


One of the biggest reasons people won’t donate to your cause is because they aren’t engaging with it. Most donors are people who are directly associated with the cause or know someone affected. This issue of engagement can be even more pronounced when the cause is rare, new, or unheard of.

Find a way to get the public to think of the bigger picture. Communities are much stronger and successful when help is offered to those who need it. Implementing this idea of togetherness may make others more open to helping out.

There are libraries of studies on the long-term effects of social programs on tax savings, health, and crime numbers. Do the research, and show the long-term cost savings of your programs. For example: while not everyone is impacted by diabetes, they can certainly understand the toll that any disease takes on the health care system, and, inevitably, their taxes.

Tackling these assumptions will make a huge difference for the future of your donation-run programs. You may not win them all, but choosing to answer the concerns that many people have will likely turn into more donations. All it takes is a little more information, a little more communication, and the foresight to get out ahead of the troubling questions.

Go get, ’em fundraisers! And remember, we’re always here to chat.

Melissa Buzan | BetterGiving Marketing Specialist


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