Looking For A Reason NOT To Donate?

You Will ALWAYS Find One

February 18, 2022

How many times have we, as fundraisers, heard “Organization ABC decided to blah-blah-blah. I won’t give them any financial support anymore.”? My guess is far too often. In my close-to-thirty years in the fundraising world, you will always find the naysayers. You will find the people who threaten to withhold financial support because of a decision (or lack of one) made by someone in leadership. This is merely rationalizing their reason to withhold support.

Most boards are elected democratically, and furthermore, most boards are community volunteers. The board decisions have likely not been entered into lightly. If you, as a donor, don’t like a particular action taken by the organization, I am sure that someone at the organization will meet with you to discuss your concerns further.

Imagine if a donor was displeased about a policy that a food bank made and threatened to withhold their financial support. There are still people who would need access to the food bank’s services, regardless of political decisions. At the end of the day, the organization’s mission must continue. Does a donor genuinely intend to make the end-user (the food bank client) suffer more needlessly by withholding support?

The Reason for the Lapsed Donor

In my discussions with donors over the years, I have had the opportunity to address some lapsed donors. Sometimes the donor had lapsed because their priorities had shifted. Other times, it would be forgetfulness. I would surmise that a donor who was a past supporter who is no longer a supporter falls in one of two categories:

  1. They no longer care about your organization/forgot to donate.
  2. They are upset and send a message by withholding support.

This second type of behavior exists at all levels of donors, but it is often the well-heeled donors that hold the organization hostage. As I mentioned in the title of this post, if you are looking for a reason to cut Organziation ABC out of your philanthropic priorities, you will always find one.

I want to suggest that folks take a different approach instead. Perhaps there needs to be some “cooling off time” so that the displeasing decision can sink in a bit. Maybe the consequence of the donor’s actions hasn’t been fully appreciated by the donor themselves. Does the donor genuinely want people to go hungry (using the example from above)?

Instead of deciding to withhold support, is there a compromise? Perhaps the donor can direct their support to a designated gift that would benefit the organization yet not cross their “line in the sand”?

In short, if you are looking for a justification to cut a charity out of your plan, you will ALWAYS find one. Good fundraising is emotional much more than it is logical. I urge you to find a reason to keep supporting their good works.

Until next week.