Why People Give

Why do people give to a cause?

Have you ever asked yourself why it seems that some people are so generous with their time? You may know people who are also generous with their money. You may still know others who are generous with both their time and money and seem to truly have a passion for the cause they support.

Professionals in development offices around the country in every major university all in one way or another seek a better understanding of their donors. If you can understand people and their habits and their likes and dislikes then maybe you can get a better understanding of their individual passion and what motivates someone to give.

A big question nonprofits need to ask is: Are you meeting the needs of your individual donors? Some people give because they want others to know of their generosity. Other people give and honestly want no one to know of their giving because they realize that if others know they will be asked more and for the most part many donors are not interested in constantly fielding requests for funds. Other people give out of guilt or seeking a sense of belonging or being needed.

Recently, I typed in the three words on Yahoo, “why people give” I got back a staggering 1,700,000 pages of information that could be read. As I clicked the mouse over and over I finally got around page number one hundred when I found a good answer from Andy Robinson in his article titled -Why People (and Foundations) Give Away Their Money which confirmed again what I and many people also have heard in board meetings at one time or another – people give to people.

With this knowledge in hand, now you know one of the secrets!

Another big secret not often understood is the importance of saying two simple words in a donor’s ears! THANK YOU!

I would encourage everyone to read this interview:
How One Donor Spends $50,000 Annually With Planned Gifts Of Over $1 Million


Time and time again nonprofits make the mistake of not bothering to thank someone for a gift by sending a hand written thank note and under a separate letter a receipt for any gift given.

The executive director and staff must not take for granted a donor when on the rare instance they find someone who is very generous and a big supporter of their cause. Many times these big time supporters either have wealth or have the passion to give to the cause and on some occasions are ignored or taken advantage of their good nature because they have always been there!

The point I am making is no matter who is giving a gift, if it is the person making $1,000,000 a year or $50,000 a year, and no matter how many times a person has given a gift, every single gift needs to be treated with RESPECT.