Why Do Your Donors Stop Giving? Here’s How to Find Out

You have a lot of donors and every one matters. But eventually some donors, no matter how loyal they once were, stop giving.

Have you ever wondered why?

Wouldn’t it be important to know why, so that you can keep them active for as long as possible?

Understanding why donors stop giving is paramount to increasing the lifetime of an active donor and many nonprofit organizations don’t have a plan in place for following up with inactive donors.

Here’s a simple way to find out why your donors stopped giving – and it should only take a couple of hours to start getting the answer you’re looking for.

How to Find Out Why Donors Stop Giving

How do you find out why a donor stopped giving?

Ask them!

Yes, it’s that simple. But will you actually do it?

If you really want to find out why donors stop giving to your organization and how to get them back, there are a few simple steps you can take.

4 Steps to Uncovering the Reason

Step 1: Build a List of Inactive Donors

First, choose a timeframe which constitutes an “inactive” donor. This will vary based on your organization and the data you have available.

Be sure to choose a timeframe that is long enough to really be “inactive”. No donations in 12-18 months is a safe place to start.

Once you’ve decided on a valid timeframe, pull the list of email addresses and names for your donors who meet the criteria.

Step 2: Create an Online Survey

(This step is optional, but highly recommended. It will make collecting the answers easier and faster as it removes most of the manual work.)

You’re going to create an online survey form with two questions. Before we get to the questions, first choose one of the free online survey form tools: Google Forms, Wufoo, or Survey Monkey.

Create a survey with only two questions:

Question 1:

“Is there a reason you have not donated to support our organization recently? If so, please let us know.”

For this question, you can either use a free response format (by letting the donor type in whatever they want) or you can make it a multiple choice question.

For multiple choice, here are a few example options you might include:

  • Financial constraints
  • Unsure of impact of the mission/organization
  • No longer interested in supporting this mission/organization
  • Forgot about the organization or mission
  • Donated to another organization instead
  • No reason

This is just a starting place – feel free to add, remove, or adjust these options as you see fit but be sure to consider all of the possible answers someone may want to give.

Question 2:

“What information or resources would help you feel more confident in supporting our organization?”

You want this question to be multiple choice. While the first question uncovers why the donor stopped giving, this question will help you figure out what needs to change for them to donate again.

Some more example options might include:

  • None, I plan on giving again in the near future
  • Information on how donations are used
  • Information about the impact of my donations
  • Facts and research about the need
  • Proof of the impact that donations are having

Step 3: Write a Simple Email Message

Next, write up a simple email to be sent to the list of past donors that you pulled in Step 1.

The email should read something like this:

“Hi [name],

We are so thankful for your past support and value your feedback in improving our efforts to [describe your mission].

Would you please take a moment to answer this [link]2 question survey[/link]?

It will only take 30 seconds and would really help us out.

Here’s the link: [link to survey]

Thanks again, [name], for supporting [Organization Name].”

Replace the items in square brackets with the appropriate information (donors name, your organization name, and the link to the survey).

Don’t use a fancy email template for this email. You want it to be plain, simple and direct.

Step 4: Test & Send the Email

As with every email campaign, be sure to send a test email message to yourself or someone on your staff (ideally a few people) to be sure the email looks good, has no typos, and that the links to the survey work correctly.

If everything looks good and the links work, send the final email.

That’s it! You’re done.

Now wait anxiously for the survey results to appear, but remember to be patient.

3 Reasons You Should Really Do This

It takes time and effort and it can be a little intimidating to go through with these steps, but it’s really important.

Understanding why your donors stop giving is helpful and you should really spend the time to give this a try. Here are three reasons why it’s worth spending a few hours to set this up.

1. You will gain insight into why donors stopped giving

This is the goal and any responses to your survey will help you better understand your donors. And understanding your donors better is always a good thing.

2. You will learn what past donors need from you in order to re-engage

The second question of the survey will help you better understand what donors think is missing or not readily available from your organization. This will point out areas that you can improve – your website, communications, or research – which will also strengthen your connection with existing and prospective donors.

3. Staying present in the donor’s mind is essential

Just by reaching out to your past donors, your organization is able to be pushed back into their focus. This is valuable since you never know when a donor will think of your organization and share with their friends or come back and make a donation. By reaching out to them and showing appreciation, you’re able to remain top-of-mind and in good standing.

Of course, you may get very few responses to your survey. It’s hard to get people to take action. And of the responses you do get, they may not be crystal clear. But with a little effort and some careful reasoning you can have a good idea about why your donors stopped giving and what steps to take to improve your donor retention.