Does It Matter Why People Give?
Does it matter why people give their time and resources to help nonprofit organizations achieve their missions? Since there could be many possible reasons, the obvious answer would be, “Of course!”
Maybe someone wants to change the world for the better, or wants all puppies to have safe homes, or wants the positive recognition that comes with being a major philanthropist. People give because they believe it is their religious duty. They give because they believe human beings should help one another, or because they like beautiful art and music. Some give because their friends do.
It isn’t just money that people are donating, either. They are sharing their time, passion, business expertise and their very selves.
So why would the answer to the question, “Does it matter why people give?” ever be "no"? Because from a nonprofit professional’s perspective, it is not our job to judge people’s motivations for giving. It is our job to be the vehicle that enables a donor’s or volunteer’s gift of time or money to support the important work of our organization. Whether someone is giving to receive a tax write-off, to see his or her name in the society pages, or because the individual’s faith requires tithing, it doesn’t make the person giving any more or less important than those donors who are motivated by the organization’s mission.
What is important for a nonprofit professional to do, however, is to recognize and understand what motivates our donors to give. How is that different? Well, we don’t want to judge someone’s reason for giving as good or bad, but we do need to understand each particular donor’s or volunteer’s catalyst, so that we may help them find the path to giving that coincides with their motivations and desires.
The end result always should be to the benefit of the organization and the people, animals, arts or environment it serves. As a nonprofit professional, I can say I am grateful for the investments of time and resources people in our communities provide, and believe it is part of my job to make them feel as good about giving as the organization feels about receiving.
Tracy Vanderneck is president of Phil-Com, a training and consulting company where she works with nonprofits across the U.S. on fundraising, board development and strategic planning. Tracy has more than 25 years of experience in fundraising, business development and sales. She holds a Master of Science in management with a concentration in nonprofit leadership, a graduate certificate in teaching and learning, and a DEI in the Workplace certificate. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), an Association of Fundraising Professionals Master Trainer, and holds a BoardSource certificate in nonprofit board consulting. Additionally, she designs and delivers online fundraising training classes and serves as a Network for Good Personal Fundraising Coach.