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Why People Donate to Nonprofits

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Why People Donate to Nonprofits

Pastors may have noticed that tithing and donations have decreased in recent years. They could see this as a sign that people are less willing to give, but in reality, donations to charitable organizations remain high. This raises the question of why people donate to nonprofits. A more important question, though, is why they’re donating to nonprofits and not churches. 

This guide will help you understand the complexity of this issue along with how houses of worship can turn the tide. Nonprofits excel in areas where many churches drop the ball. Our DonorWerx Framework focuses on overcoming these problems so your ministry can succeed. Make sure you review our framework once you’ve finished this guide!

Why People Donate to Nonprofits

Before delving into why people might have stopped donating to churches, it’s important to understand why they’re still donating to nonprofits. Even when one would expect charitable giving to go down – such as during the coronavirus pandemic – donations have remained consistent or even increased.

To understand this seemingly counterintuitive fact, let’s look at some primary reasons people donate to nonprofits:

  • Donors can see the impact their money makes.
  • People are mission-driven to many organizations’ causes.
  • Donors can research nonprofits and see that they’re trustworthy.
  • People want to feel like they’re part of something special.

It’s important to remember that successful nonprofit organizations do not take these reasons for granted. Even though someone would love to see the impact their donation has, for instance, it’s contingent on the organization to ensure that this happens. As we often see from some of the best online giving pages, this frequently starts even before an initial contribution.

What many don’t realize when they ask why people donate to nonprofits is that people don’t donate to nonprofits. They donate to certain nonprofits. We know this thanks to experts who predict that one-third of these organizations will not survive a recession – even as others continue to thrive.

Whether a person donates to a specific nonprofit has much more to do with the nonprofit itself rather than a simple desire to give.

Why People Donate to Nonprofits and Not Churches

If you’re part of a church’s leadership team, you know many houses of worship have seen difficulties recently. It’s certainly disheartening to reconcile this with the fact that donations to many nonprofits have remained steady and even increased. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that ministries have failed to learn what makes these organizations successful.

Fortunately, this isn’t something your church has to accept. Once you realize where your deficiencies are, you can take active measures to correct them. The following factors are just a few of the reasons people donate to nonprofits even as church contributions go down. Recognizing the issues is your first step to improvement.


It’s a hard pill to swallow, but fewer than four out of ten Americans trust organized religion. This is unfortunate since most of them still believe in God. And even though public trust in nonprofit organizations is also on the decline, it’s still much higher than what’s seen at houses of worship.

Use of Technology

One of the big reasons people donate to nonprofits is their acceptance of technology. Online giving pages, app donations, text-to-give services, and a variety of other technological innovations have made it simple for donors to continue contributing. Even if you pride your church on its “old-timey” feel, it’s vital that you keep up with tech as it relates to giving.

Impact You Can See

Nonprofits make a point of telling donors exactly what their donations have accomplished. Churches often assume that their work’s benefits are obvious within the ministry and community, but this isn’t always the case. You should be upfront with where donations are going and show people the impact they’re causing.

Lessons from the Business World

Another important explanation for why people donate to nonprofits relates to the organization’s business intuition. Even though they’re charitable establishments, many of their functions operate similarly to those we see in corporations. Not that you should treat your ministry like a business, but things like creating a church budget, targeted promotion, and increased revenue are all important.

Tools for Improvement

Whether you’re the head of a struggling nonprofit or a member of your church’s leadership team, you can learn something from successful charitable organizations. We’ve already discussed several strategic changes you can make to improve, but there are also many tools that can help in this transition. Eventually, you’ll no longer have to ask why people donate to nonprofits!

  • Streaming tools: Allowing congregants to “attend” services from home can keep them engaged when they’re not in a pew.
  • Utilize apps: Google Docs, Zoom, Evernote, and many other apps offer powerful tools for church administration.
  • Digital giving software: Find a software suite that lets parishioners give digitally in various forms. SecureGive allows donations via app, webpages, text, and kiosk.
  • Donor engagement software: Offering simple ways to give means nothing if you don’t motivate congregants to give. DonorWerx uses SecureGive but also provides powerful donor engagement tools.
  • Great videos and images: Churches and nonprofits alike can use video and imagery to show donors what their contributions are accomplishing. Use high-quality visuals – even if it’s just from an iPhone.

You should also check out our guide on church administration tools for a few ideas on how to improve your ministry overall. A reason people donate to nonprofits often relates to the organizations’ efficiency and effectiveness. Proper administrative resources can help your church in this endeavor.

Increase Donations to Your Church Today

Houses of worship have experienced significant difficulties in recent years. Tithing and donations were already on the decline, and once 2020 rolled around, many wondered how churches could survive economically during COVID-19. If you look at overall charitable contributions, though, it’s apparent that folks still donate. With the right strategy, churches can remain part of this giving.

The question isn’t why people donate to nonprofits; it’s why people aren’t donating to churches. By following the example set by successful charitable organizations, ministries can increase their revenue and ensure they’re able to continue doing God’s work. Schedule a Discovery Call with us today, and we’ll explain how the DonorWerx Framework can help you accomplish this.

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