President's Message

For years I have been fascinated with understanding reasons donors give to non-profits.

Many years ago, my supervisor taught me the importance of making a monetary gift to the non-profit I was raising funds for. They explained to me that before I could ask others to give, I need to be a donor myself. They challenged me to give a specific amount. I agreed, and since that time I have financially supported every non-profit I have worked for.

As I look back on that experience, I now realize that making a personal gift was more than setting an example or having skin-in-the-game. It was about me becoming a donor so I could understand what motivates and inspires others to give.

Today I would like to discuss with you three reasons donors may give to your cause.

External reasons:
In my experience, non-profits spend the most time discussing external reasons to give with their donors. External reasons donors give are physical or tangible problems an individual, the community or non-profit is facing. Examples of external reasons may include homelessness, hunger, or lack of education. External problems are often road-blocks or barriers keeping an individual or group from reaching their full potential.
To effectively use external problems as a way to motivate a donor, it must include the big picture and specific examples. For example, 3 out of 10 elderly individuals don't get enough to eat (big picture), and Doris is elderly and doesn't have enough to eat for breakfast (specific example). Donor appeals focusing on solving external problems are created in such a way that they not only share the problem but share how donors can be a solution to the problem.
Believing external reasons donors give are the main motivators behind individuals making a gift, many non-profits spend most of their time in this area. They often weave external reasons donors give into their case for support by expressing a need and how a donor can help. The problem with focusing primarily on external reasons donors give is it is only one of the many reason’s donors may choose to support your cause.
Non-profits often focus on solving external problems when donors give because you solve their internal problems.

Internal Problems:
"People's internal desire to solve a frustration is a greater motivator than their desire to solve an external problem." -Donald Miller Building a Story Brand
Internal reasons donors give include situations, obstacles, or challenges they are facing in their lives. The focus is on addressing a problem or frustration your donor is facing. For example, let's say a potential donor has a child with special needs. A frustration they may have is finding personal, evidence-based, care for their child. While the external problem may be the lack of care for special needs kids in the community, the donor is motivated by internal reasons. They give to the non-profit because it helps provide personal evidence-based care for their child.

Psychological Reasons:
The third reason donors may give to your non-profit is they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Individuals join movements that align with their values and passion. One of the reasons donors give is that they want to be a part of the change. They want to know their efforts will make a difference, and their gift matters. Your supporters want to be a partner and member of your non-profit’s community.
Psychological reasons donors give help answer the question, why? Why should donor's give to your cause? Why is your non-profit unique? Why does your non-profit matter?
Individuals want more than just being a donor to your cause, they want to be a part of your brand. This means creating a culture of philanthropy internally and externally. Everything you do must be focused on building deep sustainable long-term relationships. Supports want to know that your non-profit values them than their annual donation. They want you to show them by your actions and results that their gift makes a difference.

Whether you are looking for a career change or working on your C.F.R.E to expand your fundraising knowledge your local AFP is here to support YOU. As a member, you are a part of a global movement to help non-profits achieve their vision through professional fundraising support. Thank YOU for helping to make a difference!

Yours in Fundraising,
Aaron G. Javener CFRE

Chapter News

Featuring Laura Fredricks, author of The Ask, and special sessions with Rachel Muir, Wayne Olson, and Rachel Clemens from Mighty Citizen.

2020 Grants & Scholarships Applications are due August 21, 2020

AFP Member Benefits Webinar

Take a tour of the AFP Global website and review the benefits that come with your membership.

Diversity Resources


Upcoming Events

August 14

Summer Social


2020 Virtual Conference:  New Realities, New Strategies


For Email Marketing you can trust.