Non-profit DonorsHi there. My name is Ima Donor.

Sometimes I give to your nonprofit.

I like your cause, but I’m really thinking about switching my donations to another nonprofit.


Honestly, I feel like my money doesn’t matter.

I can’t give huge amounts of money (I’m sure you have people who do) but I want to give where I think it will do the most good.

I just don’t feel like my donation makes a difference with your organization. I’m just one of millions of people who give to you. In fact, I doubt you’ll even miss me when I’m gone.

I’m not sure you’ll get this message. You probably don’t have time to read and respond to notes from people like me.

On the outside chance that you might read this, I wanted to share some things that you do that really bother me. Most are just little things, but they aggravate me. In fact, some of them piss me off.

The total effect of these things makes me want to go find another nonprofit where I might make more of a difference with my donations.

25 Ways You’re Pissing Off Your Non-Profit Donors

1. Insider words and phrases. There are so many things you write that I don’t understand. I don’t know the acronyms and some of the fancy words you use. Please excuse my ignorance and keep it simple so I can easily understand. It makes me feel like an outsider, which really makes me feel dumb and turns me off.

Non-profit Donors2. Where are the good stories? I love reading stories about lives you’re changing. They make me feel proud that I’m helping make something happen. Some of the things you send me have no emotion in them and they’re very dry and hard to read. You may think it’s professional, but I find it boring.

3. Too much text. Maybe your other donors read everything you write, but I just don’t have time. When I see a page full of text, I cringe inside. Honestly, I don’t have time to read it, even if it’s important. Shorten up your newsletters and fundraising letters, too.

4. More photos.I love seeing the pictures of what you’re doing. But, some of them are hard to see, especially the ones from a distance where people are lined up like a basketball team. I’d rather see pictures closer up so I can see peoples’ faces to tell if I know any of them.

5. Can I see for myself? I’d love to see your program myself and maybe get an inside look. Why don’t you offer a tour that I could participate in? It doesn’t have to be private – I’d be happy to be part of a group. I’d like to see what’s happening with my donations.

6. Being rude or unfriendly.I get it that you and your co-workers are busy. But it sure hurts my feelings when I call or visit and people are unfriendly, especially if I’ve gone out of my way. All your materials make it sound like your organization is a happy place, and I’m confused when my experience is not a happy one. Am I supporting something with a negative environment? That worries me.

7. Confusing program names or logos. I don’t understand sometimes what you’re talking about – are there multiple organizations here? Or are these programs? I can’t tell. It may make sense to you, but I don’t get it.

8. Not responding to my call or email promptly. If I have a question and call you or email, please get back to me in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, I wonder if you got my message, or if you’re just so busy you can’t get back to me. Again, I feel like a number and that I just don’t matter to you.

9. Predictable newsletter. I won’t even open an email with a subject line of “March Newsletter.” I can guess what’s inside. Give me some real juice – tell me some real stories of things you’re doing that matter. I want to know. I get newsletters from other nonprofits with interesting subject lines (sometimes I click without realizing it’s a newsletter!).

Non-profit Donors10. Constantly asking for money.Why is it that almost every time I hear from you, you’re asking for money? And you don’t usually tell me what you’re going to do with the money. I like knowing what my donation will do. I’d love to feel like a partner in your work, not an ATM.

11. What is an Annual Fund? You keep asking me to support this, and I honestly don’t know what it is. I don’t feel comfortable giving to something that I don’t understand.

12. Too many statistics. I’m sure they’re important, but all those numbers are overwhelming to me and I don’t think I understand your work well enough to really get the impact of what you’re trying to convey. Maybe if you put it in some charts or an infographic, I would better understand what these numbers really mean.

13. Asking me to do too many things.When you ask me to donate, sign up to volunteer, and buy an event ticket in the same request, I’m not sure which one to do. I usually set that request aside to come back to it later, which of course, I don’t get around to. Please be clear. I’m happy to support you, but sometimes I just don’t know what the best way to help you and I can’t do everything.

14. Where’s the “donate” button on your website? I went online the other day to make a donation, and I looked all over your website, and still couldn’t find it. I’ve seen other sites where it was easy to donate – I wish your site was like that, too. Seems kind of dumb to make me search for it. Honestly, I was ready to give up when I finally found it.

15. Can you make the online giving process easier? This one really irks me. I can’t believe I have to go through so many pages and fill out so many forms just to give money online. I’ve been on other sites that were much easier. Why can’t yours be like that too? It’s obviously possible to make the process simple and easy.

16. Not calling me back when I leave a message asking to volunteer or serve on a committee. I’d love to get more involved with your programs. And I don’t understand why no one calls me back. Aren’t you getting my voice mails? Or maybe you already have so many people that you don’t need me. It sure would be nice to know, either way.

17. Making it hard to register for your event. I tried to register online for your upcoming fundraising event, and it wasn’t easy. Again, I’ve done this on other nonprofit websites and it only took a minute and I had my ticket. Why is yours so complicated? Why do I have to create an account? I don’t want another user ID and password to remember. Don’t make me work hard to give you money to buy a ticket. Make the registration process easy and painless. I’m sure not asking my friends to join me if it’s hard to register!

18. Give me adequate information once I’ve registered, like where the event is being held, what time it starts, what to wear, or where to park. I’ll need details if you want me to actually show up to the event on time and meeting the dress code. Oh, and how do I request a gluten-free meal?

19. Unhappy volunteers? I attended an event recently where the volunteers at the registration table seemed really unhappy. No one welcomed me or thanked me for coming. I felt like I was somehow inconveniencing them and I wanted to turn around and leave. What’s up with your volunteers that they’re so unhappy?

20. Short check-out line. Please find a way to shorten the check-out line after the silent auction. Surely there’s technology you can use that will speed this process up. I once waited for almost 2 hours to check out after a silent auction closed. I was madder than a wet hen! Honestly, the thing I won wasn’t worth all that, but I felt committed and stuck it out. Not sure I’ll bid on anything next time.

21. Event results? After the event, I’ll be curious to know how you did. Please tell me. Or is this information for insiders only? I’d love to know since I was there and participated. Oh, and don’t make me wait months to find out. By then I will have forgotten.

22. Fundraising letters. I really hate those letters you send out asking for money. They’re too long, they’re boring, and I don’t read them. Maybe you could include a story and some pictures? I really prefer that. Oh, and why do you send the letter to my husband when I’m the one who decides what to give and writes the check? Aren’t you paying attention?

23. Receipt? Aren’t I supposed to get a thank-you letter and receipt when I give to that fundraising letter you send out? Seems kind of rude not to send out something. If I give you money, the least you can do is say “Thank you.” And I would like a receipt for my records. The last time I got a thank-you, it was weeks after I sent my check. I guess it’s not that important to you, but it is to me.

24. Including a reply envelope in the thank-you letter. Really? You can’t just thank me and leave it at that? Frankly, I’m insulted when you put an envelope in with the letter. It feels like all you want is my money.

Non-profit Donors25. Contact info. Maybe you could put the name and phone number or email of a specific person in the letter so I could contact them. Sometimes I have a quick question and I’d love to know who to call, especially if they would actually take my call.