Why Wealthy Donors Stop Giving – In Their Own Words

Over 25% of wealthy households self-reported they stopped giving to a nonprofit they supported the year prior. Cultivating meaningful relationships has never been more important for development offices across the country. But how do wealthy donors feel about the strength (or weakness) of their relationships with nonprofits? And how do they say it impacts their decision to support an initiative? In their own words…

Top Takeaways:
  1. Twenty percent (!) of wealthy households do not give because of a lack of connection to an institution. Want to increase major gifts? Get better at identifying wealthy donors engaged with the institution today.
  2. Steward gifts effectively or pay the price. Conversation for conversations sake does not a relationship make! Show, tell, describe, demonstrate the impact while it is happening. The right updates at the right time build trust and rapport. Both are building blocks to future major gifts from retained wealthy donors.

An interesting section of The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, a biennial report conducted by the wealth management firm U.S. Trust in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, outlined why some wealthy households did not give to charity or stopped giving to a specific charity.

“While the great majority of high-net-worth households gave to charity in 2017, some did not,” according to the report, which was based on a survey of nationally representative, random sample of high-net-worth households. “Among those, the reason most frequently cited was because they simply did not want to give (31%). Other top reasons for not giving were because meeting family needs were more important (27%) and because of a lack of connection to any organization or cause (20%).”

Researchers also found that 28% of wealthy donors did not give in 2017 to a charity that they gave to in previous years. Why did they stop? The most frequently cited reason was that “the organization made too many financial requests, or that the requests came too closely together.”

Other reasons included:

  • A change in their own philanthropic priorities and/or personal circumstances;
  • Funding for the cause they supported was completed or that the impact goal was met;
  • Various types of action or inaction by the organization, including organizations that were perceived as ineffective or that did not sufficiently communicate their effectiveness;
  • A change in leadership, mission or activities in a way that the donor did not want to support.

You can read The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy here.

By Kevin Bauman, Director of Philanthropic Initiatives, Capture Higher Ed