Why donors sneak away without even telling you

It hurts when donors go away. It hurts, but most of the time you can’t feel or see it happen. Because there’s no screaming, plate-throwing break-up. They just quietly fade away.

That’s the message form the Oneicity blog at Most major donors don’t leave mad:

… right now there are major donors in your file who don’t feel like they are making a difference in your work. And they may easily be wooed away by another NPO who help them understand the difference they are making in the world (not in your budget but the “why” they are giving.)

Major donors don’t leave because they’re mad.

That’s how it is for most donors who leave, major or not. They drift away. If you asked them why, most wouldn’t quite be able to articulate it.

What goes wrong? You fail to be a relevant, meaningful part of their lives. Something else takes your place that fits them better.

The fact that donors virtually never warn you before lapsing away forever means you have to work that much harder to meet their needs.

Here’s your best defense against the disappearing donor:


  • Offer them what they want — not what you want them to want.
  • Thank them when they give.
  • Keep proving to them that their giving makes a difference.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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