Top 5 Reasons Why Donors Stop Giving

by | Oct 13, 2020

Updated February 16, 2022. Originally published Dec 8, 2015.

Discovering why donors stop giving to your nonprofit will give you and your development team a keen understanding of what you need to do to get far better fundraising results.

Twenty eight percent of wealthy donors stop giving to an organization that they supported in the previous year, a Bank of America report found. Here are the five top reasons:

  1. The donor received too many solicitations or the nonprofit asked for an inappropriate amount (29.7%)
  2. Circumstances in the donor’s household changed  (financial, relocation, employment)  (25%)
  3. The organization changed leadership, it’s mission, or its activities in a way the donor didn’t support (15.1%)
  4. The donor’s philanthropic focus changed  (15%)
  5. The organization was not effective or did not sufficiently communicate its effectiveness (13.5%)

Yes, these are interesting facts, but here’s my view: don’t spend too much time worrying about these numbers. Stay focused on why people are giving and look for ways to keep people engaged.

Why The Rich Give

Believing in the organizations mission was the top motivation for high net worth donors, with 58.8 percent citing this as a reason to give.

Annually supporting the same causes and giving to an efficient organization have been important important as motivations for high net worth donors, with between 31.4 percent and 45.1 percent of donors citing these motivations for giving.

Why Donors Stop Giving

The report also highlights a strengthening relationship between volunteering and giving. High net worth donors gave the highest average amount in contributions to organizations both where they volunteered and believed their gift would have the largest impact. By comparison,  high net worth donors gave the highest average amount to organizations where they served on the board or had an oversight role.

Most high net worth donors derive great satisfaction and fulfillment from their charitable giving. In this context, satisfaction relates to the perception that these donors have about the outcomes and effects of their charitable activity, while fulfillment relates to the feelings that their charitable activity engenders.

Wealthy donors are becoming much more strategic in terms of giving both their time and money. “The majority of these donors relied on a strategy to guide their giving and focused their giving on particular causes or geographical areas,” the research found. “In addition, fewer high net worth donors gave spontaneously in response to a need and a greater proportion funded nonprofit general operations.”

The semi-annual Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy examines the giving patterns, priorities, and attitudes of America’s wealthiest households. This study is the seventh in a series written and researched by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Investing in Donor Retention

Nonprofits are systematically under-investing in new donor acquisition and donor retention. That’s because resource development is often viewed as an overhead expense, not an investment.
At iMission, we specialize in helping nonprofits navigate fundraising strategies, data capture and management, and the ongoing conversation between donors and organizations.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help your org find and retain more donors.
Email us at for more information or call us at 203-747-8042.
Free bonus: take a look at our YouTube channel and watch this video on how to calculate the ROI of donor acquisition and retention to address why your donors stop giving.

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