Thank goodness we’re not all the same!

Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were?

There would only be one flavor of ice cream (because we’d all want the same kind).  There would only be one kind of music (I shudder to think what we’d all be listening to or singing karaoke with!!).

If we were all the same, we’d be donating money for the same reasons.

Maybe we’d all want to give back or maybe we’d all want to help others.  Or maybe we’d all just want the tax benefit. But, since we’re all different, we give for lots of different reasons.

It’s important to keep this in mind when you are fundraising.  

It’s easy to start to assume that we know why people will give to our cause, and then create our appeal around the assumed reason.  Big mistake.  We can often get it wrong!  If we assume that people will give because ours is a good cause, we’re going to be sad when donations don’t come pouring in.

Instead of assuming, we need to either find out why people give to our organization or make our appeal broad enough to be compelling for lots of different folks and different giving reasons.

Here are some of the common reasons why people give:

  • They want to change or save a life
  • They want to help those less fortunate
  • They want to give back
  • They want to make their community a better place
  • Their religion encourages them to give
  • They want the tax benefit

And the most common reason?  Because someone asked.

I was working with a client yesterday, putting together an appeal letter.  He was convinced that most people would give for the tax benefit.  I had to convince him that was not necessarily the case.  He thought that since that’s the reason he would give, it would be the same reason for others.  I had to help him see that people give for many different reasons, and mostly because they care about the mission.

So, next time you’re planning a fundraising letter or an event, remember not to guess you know why people will give. Don’t assume that they are all interested in the tax benefit or that they all want to give back.

Until you get to know your donors, you won’t know exactly what their reasons are, so give them lots of reasons to support your cause.



  1. A great reminder, Sandy. I was just talking to a client about givers who sponsored a bike-a-thon rider. I was making the point that they couldn’t assume that the donor had any clue what their organization was all about.

  2. The tax deduction is a funny thing. If it weren’t there it would probably impact giving, but it’s really not a motivator for making a gift. According to the 2010 Bank of America study on high net-worth individuals, 72.4% of respondents were most motivated by being ‘Moved at How Gift Can Make a Difference.’

  3. Our differences really makes our living in these wold more meaningful. There really are so many reason why we give and the most common is because we are asked to. But what ever the reason behind, let us not forget the old saying that goes like these.” Its better to give than to receive.” Thank you for sharing your ideas. Love coming back for more.

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