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

Thirty 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 reason:

  1. The donor received too many solicitations or the nonprofit asked for an inappropriate amount (38%),
  2. The organization changed leadership or its activities (29%).
  3. The donor changed philanthropic focus to support other causes (27%).
  4. The donor’s personal situation changed (financial, relocation, employment) (22%).
  5. The donor no longer was personally involved in the organization (12%).

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

Feeling moved about how a gift can make a difference remained a top motivation for high net worth donors in 2011, with 74 percent citing this as a reason to give that year (relative to 72.4 percent in 2009).

Annually supporting the same causes and giving to an efficient organization held steady as motivations for high net worth donors between 2009 and 2011, with between 66 percent and 71 percent of donors citing these motivations for giving in those years.

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 ($102,642). By comparison, in 2009, high net worth donors gave the highest average amount to organizations where they served on the board or had an oversight role ($84,551, adjusted to 2011 dollars).

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, compared with 2009, fewer high net worth donors gave spontaneously in response to a need and a greater proportion funded nonprofit general operations.”

The 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy examines the giving patterns, priorities, and attitudes of America’s wealthiest households for the year 2011. This study, the fourth in a series written and researched by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Click here to review the full report.

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 investment. Learn how to calculate the ROI of donor acquisition and retention support investment in development to address why your donors stop giving.
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