In this extremely valuable study of giving by wealthy individuals, Indiana University’s Center on Philantropy reports this astonishing finding …

The #1 reason wealthy individuals stop giving to a charity they have supported is (pick one):

  1. They can no longer afford to give
  2. They were dissatisfied with the charity’s performance
  3. They were being solicited too often
  4. They developed different funding interests or priorities

If you picked any of these — any one of which would be somewhat understandable — you’re wrong!

The #1 reason, cited by almost 60% of respondents, is that they were "no longer feeling connected to the organization."

And how many stopped giving? 38% of wealthy donors stopped giving to one organization in 2007; 26% stopped giving to at least two organizations.

WOW! What a colossal failure of donor cultivation. Keep in mind that these are donors with either annual household income greater then $200,000 and/or net worth of at least $1 million. Not small fry.

Further, these are donors who say (46%) that their charitable contributions have a greater impact on their own personal fulfillment than on those who receive their gifts. Just less than 20% of these donors believe that their gifts have a major impact on the organizations they support, and only 6% believe they are making significant contributions to the improvement of society in general. Is this an affirmation of the emotional drive behind giving, or what?!

Tell me, how does a nonprofit fail to maintain an emotional connection with a current high value donor like this? If your nonprofit can’t manage to cultivate and bond with one of these folks, forget about your "rank-and-file" direct mail or online donors!

I’m speechless.


P.S. The study was done for Bank of America. More info on the study from the IU Center on Philanthropy here. Thanks to Philanthropy Journal for the tip.

This article was posted in: Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Major donors, Nonprofit management, Research.
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