• Michael Glover

Why Your Nonprofit Is Not Getting Donations

I recently wrote a blog article on my personal website about why clients don't buy from businesses. However, the same principle applies to any kind of sales, whether they are for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits can sometimes struggle getting to sell people on donating to their cause, no matter how donation-worthy their cause may be.

A quick search on the internet and you can find hundreds, if not thousands, of worthy causes to donate to that are right in your local area. Yet, they struggle getting donations. WHY?

You can site a number of reasons why but there is only one root cause of why people are not donating to your nonprofit or cause that you are fundraising for.

What is that root cause? It's TRUST!!

Think about it. You are walking down the street and see a person begging for money. It's a big debate on whether to give or not to give. Why? Trust! Do the majority of people trust a panhandler to spend the money on what they need, or will they spend it on drugs? Some people will give no matter what without question for many reasons but they are not the majority. No matter your opinion on the matter, people question the impact their donation will make because of trust.

On a larger scale now, with an organized nonprofit, you have to ask yourself,

"How are we building trust with our donors?"

It's not easy to show donors the statistical impact their donation will make when you are saving children from starvation or human trafficking because you can't put that kind of impact on a spreadsheet. There is so much more impact there that cannot be expressed through numbers.

So what can you do to build trust with current and potential donors? Here are a few ideas:


This is one of the best marketing strategies that many people miss. They focus so much on the details and what donations will do, they forget to tell a story about what a donation has done. How have you impacted others already? This builds trust.

Here's an example: Recently I went to a dinner auction that was benefiting a local nonprofit that was partnering with Operation Underground Railroad. This nonprofit was specializing in aftercare for victims of human trafficking for women who were from a specific age group in my own local area. Organizers spoke about what they did, how the organization helps provide resources and there was even a live performance from a celebrity. All good right?

Close, but not yet.

It got real when they had survivors get up on stage and share their story. They shared their heart-wrenching experience and how this organization helped them overcome extreme challenges. They were showing that donations were trustworthy to this organization. They made their cause real and I was sold.

There are other ways to build trust besides storytelling.

Have A Plan

On a long trip, I read a book called "Created To Flourish" by Peter Greer and Phil Smith. The authors wrote about how donating money can cause more harm than good. I was intrigued.

The example they shared (and I am paraphrasing big time) told about donating food, like beans, to a community. A nonprofit comes in for about a year giving out free beans. It causes the local business, who sells beans, to go under and they disappear. Why buy the beans, when I can get them for free right? Then the nonprofit leaves after a year and the community is left without any resources for beans. The nonprofit drove out the competition.

The book then goes into a new way of giving that provides a much better way of impacting for good and helping causes and communities to flourish, by working with the local business on providing beans to the community. It changed how we give as a family. I highly recommend reading it.

Showing that you have a plan in place that will create a lasting impact and make a real difference can develop trust with your donor.

Don't Just Ask For Cash

No matter what your nonprofit cause is, you can get more donations in than ever before, no matter the economic impact. We did a podcast on how people can give more in 2020 with the CARES act.

People are surprised to find that cash is not what is donated most. It's actually the smallest percentage of donated items. If you need help finding new ways for people to donate non-cash items, schedule a time with me (its free). We help people receive donations of the most complicated assets.

Also, be sure to always say "Thank you" to your donors. Many miss this opportunity in the nonprofit industry, but gratitude goes a long way when you ask for another donation.

What other ways have you seen work in helping develop trust? Leave a comment below!

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