Why do people contribute to your nonprofit?
I’m not asking why they “should” give, but rather why “do” they contribute?
It used to be because people not only believed in your organization, but they enjoyed taking a tax deduction. But that is changing. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that taxpayers have itemized $54 billion less because of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That means that charities could see a $21 billion decline less as taxpayers see less benefit on their taxes.
The Charities Aid Foundation, an organization that helps nonprofits identified four reasons:
- 96% of people gave to charity as they felt a sense of duty to give back to society and tackle inequality, using their good fortune to help others.
- Donors identified with a specific cause they felt passionate about – and for 75% of people, this was the key influence behind their giving.
- Selfless giving is often a key component of many spiritual and religious belief systems, and an overwhelming 71% of donors pointed to their religious values as a key motivation for their commitment to charity.
- 61% of people interviewed spoke of personal, life-changing experiences that sparked their giving. These varied from having directly experienced the hardships of the developing world to suffering a loss of a family member who battled a disease.
Where does your nonprofit fit into those motivations?
I’ve always said that the public radio stations I worked with don’t cure cancer, but we could still make an important case for why we deserved financial support. Our fundable cause was supporting unbiased fact-based journalism.
When an organization launches a major campaign, it develops a case statement. Given the changes in the tax law and the growing number of worthwhile causes, it will be increasingly important for nonprofits to build a case statement for their annual campaigns. That also means answering five fundamental questions from donors:
– Does your mission align with my objectives?
– What will you do with my money, and what will be the results?
– What is the vision for your organization, and is it sustainable?
– How urgent is your ask, and why?
Your ability to address these issues in your written and in-person appeals will help donors see the need more clearly. Transparency and a strong case will be necessary for the future success of nonprofit fundraising as the motivations for giving continue to evolve.