Why Do People Give?

People give to people

Helping non-profits ascend to new heights   

Helping non-profits ascend to new heights


Despite what you may think, people don’t give to places or things. They give to people. My mentor, Jimmy Moffett, had a hit list of guys he would approach when he needed some extra money to help out a family at church or tend to some other need. He would call up his “posse” and tell them how much was required. Sometimes he would tell them what it was about and other times due to confidentiality issues, he would not. The men always responded. They were giving to a person they believed in. They were glad to do it and felt honored to be asked.

In a recent campaign with a non-profit, one of the campaign leaders received a gift of $50,000 from an individual who had never given more than $200 to the organization. Why? The donor respected and even loved the one who made the request. Every Executive Director must recognize this dynamic and spend time cultivating relationships with donors. The day will come when a big request will be made. When that time comes, the donor needs to like and respect you.

People want to make a difference

Donors want to make the world a better place and change lives. Visions of changing the world excite people. If a non-profit is considering a campaign for facilities, remember that a building is not a vision. It is a structure made of inanimate bricks and mortar. What are you going to do with the building is the question?

Your donors are looking to answer the question, “What is the return on investment?” This is not a cold, calculated response. This is good stewardship. The number of non-profits has exploded in the last twenty years and everyone has their hand out. If your donor only has so much time and money to give, they want to make the biggest possible impact. No one wants to squander time or waste money.

Before making an ask, large or small, be sure there is a relationship that fosters the request and be able to powerfully articulate the vision.