Why Do People Donate?

This question is simple but vitally important to anyone trying to raise funds – why do people donate? In this article, we’ll walk you through the core reasons why donors give their hard-earned money to their favorite nonprofit organizations. Plus, we’ll add some tips to capitalize on these reasons and bring in more money for your important work.

6 minutes read
Why Do People Donate?

As a nonprofit organization, you probably long to understand the behavioral science behind why people donate in order to appeal to those factors and increase your donations. To help with that, we have compiled a short list of such factors in the hopes that you can transform them into successful marketing strategies.

Along the way, we’ll include ways you can use each factor to bring in more donations. So, why do people donate? Let’s take a look!

Why Are People Donating to Charity?

Check out these seven reasons why people give money to charity and see how you can use them in your fundraising strategy.

1. Social Influence

Case studies show that people are much more likely to donate (and donate more) if they are asked to by someone close to them, as this adds a dimension of trust and legitimacy. In fact, 39% of Americans say they’ve donated to a nonprofit organization because a friend or family member asked. 

That’s where peer-to-peer giving comes in. With Donorbox Peer-to-Peer, you can simply toggle a switch on any campaign to allow your top supporters to fundraise on your behalf. They’ll receive their own fundraising page to customize with text, videos, and pictures that help tell the story of why they’re supporting you. Then they share their fundraising pages with their friends and family members to bring in more donations for your cause. Any donations they collect automatically flow to your Donorbox account. 

You can choose to invite your supporters by email or allow anyone to sign up to support you. Learn more about Donorbox Peer-to-Peer with this step-by-step guide

We love how the Captain Paul Watson Foundation enabled peer-to-peer to boost their whale conservation campaign. They include clear instructions right on their fundraising page and encourage people to sign up to fundraise on their behalf. 

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2. Positive Experience

Humans are creatures of habit, including when it comes to donations. Furthermore, individuals who have donated before are much more likely to donate – especially if they had a positive experience. This also applies to individuals who have volunteered for a charitable organization, as they are more likely to volunteer again.

That’s why it’s so important to make it easy for your donors to give again and again. Donorbox’s sleek donation forms improve the giving process to help you secure more donations up front. Then, giving again is easy with QuickDonate™ and the donor portal. Donors can log into their own Donorbox account to make the same donation again with just a click. 

Learn more about QuickDonate™ in this short video – 

Boost Your Donor Experience

4. Make a Difference

Some people are only interested in charitable giving if they are certain their gift can make a difference. It’s hard for donors to conceptualize how their five-dollar donation can make a difference in a nonprofit organization’s massive mission. And if they can’t see the difference they’ll make, oftentimes they simply won’t give. 

However, if the impact of their donation – no matter the size! – is clearly illustrated, they’ll give. So your task is to properly demonstrate the impact of gifts of all sizes. 

A great way to do this is right on your donation form. Donorbox makes it easy to show donors what each donation level does to support your mission. Simply add text contextualizing what each level provides in real-world terms. 

Check out how Mercy Partners efficiently demonstrates the impact of each donation level. It’s powerful for donors to know that for only eleven dollars, they can feed someone for a whole week. 

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Pro-tip: Enabling recurring donations is a great way to help donors make more of a difference with their donations. They may want to donate a larger amount but can’t afford to give it all at once. Smaller, recurring donations add up in a big way. Donorbox recurring donations are easy to set up with the intervals that make the most sense for your organization.

4. Personal Connection 

Sometimes there’s an intense connection between a donor and your mission. Maybe they know someone affected by your important work or they’ve always dreamed of getting involved with your cause. Whatever it is, people are more likely to donate to organizations and causes to which they have these strong personal connections. 

While this isn’t something your organization can anticipate, it’s a great thing to keep in mind when considering cultivating one-time donors into repeat donors or even growing mid-level donors into major donors. The personal experience connection is a powerful one – and shouldn’t be underestimated. The trick is to find a way to convince a donor that their donation has compelling impact, and that their personal connection is worth revisiting again and again. 

 Pro-tip: When you learn of a donor’s personal connection to your mission, include that information on their donor profile in your Donorbox donor management database. This will help you plan your cultivation strategy and segment your outreach. 

5. Tax Benefits

While many donors give for altruistic reasons, some people are interested in charitable giving for tax benefits. And that’s okay! 

Donations to 501(c) organizations in the U.S. have the benefit of being deductible on the donor’s yearly taxes. This benefit can be minor or significant, depending on how much a donor gives and their overall tax situation. 

A way to bring in more donors interested in these tax benefits is to accept donations of stock and cryptocurrency. This is because these types of gifts have an additional tax benefit – allowing donors to avoid paying capital gains tax. 

If their stock or crypto holdings have increased significantly, donors can donate those assets directly to nonprofits who then liquidate them and receive the full amount, without missing out on the owed capital gains taxes. This results in more money for your nonprofit and a higher tax-deductible amount for your donors!

Donorbox’s integration with The Giving Block makes accepting donations of stock and cryptocurrency super easy for you and your donors. Donors can give directly through your Donorbox donation form and The Giving Block handles getting the assets to brokers for confirmation and liquidation. Learn more about this powerful integration here

6. Recognition

Recognition also motivates donors to give. They want to be acknowledged by their peers as someone who is charitable and whose values align with that of the organization they are donating to. As such, many charities publicly recognize their donors on their websites or at events and offer their donors the opportunity to share their contributions on social media sites.

That’s why a donor wall has become an increasingly popular way to encourage more donations. A donor wall showcases donor’s names, the amount donated, and a short comment explaining why they gave. As an added bonus, a donor wall helps build social influence – which encourages people to give because they can see that others already have! 

Donorbox makes it so easy to add a donor wall to your fundraising page. Simply enable the donor wall on your campaign and donors will be prompted to opt-in to share their name, donation amount, and an optional comment on the wall. 

The donor wall appears below your donation form on your donation page and in a separate tab on your crowdfunding page. Here’s how it looks on Project Hui’s donation page –

Check out this guide to learn more about how to enable a donor wall on Donorbox and embed it on your website. 

Other forms of recognition include properly thanking your donors, hosting donor appreciation events, and sharing your donors on social media

7. Tribute donations 

This last reason why people donate to charities is a touching one. Some donors give to honor or memorialize someone they care about. Typically this involves giving to nonprofit organizations whose missions are meaningful to the person being honored or memorialized. 

You can bring in more of these donations by making it as easy as possible for someone to donate in honor or in memory of someone else. Donorbox has you covered with an easy addition to your donation form. Simply enable tribute donations on your Donorbox campaign and your donors will be able to check a box to dedicate their donation. 

Then they can include the information for the person they’re honoring, including the contact information for the person who should receive notification of their gift. 

We love how Friends of Momance has a dedicated donation page to bring in more tribute donations. This is a great way to help donors build a personal connection with your mission, too. 

Accept Tribute Donations

You can even set up automated notification emails for the recipients and fully customize the text in your campaign editor, saving you time and ensuring your donors’ recipients get notifications right away.


So, why do people donate? The real answer is that it depends on the individual. And as much as we try to understand the brain activity and driving desires of our donors, they’re the only ones who ultimately know the reasons behind their donations. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t implement some simple ways to connect with the different known types of donation drivers. Nonprofits should optimize their fundraising strategies to connect with all types of donors – and bring in more money for their causes. 

Donorbox helps thousands of organizations boost their fundraising with comprehensive, easy-to-use tools that capture donations from all types of donors. With streamlined, customizable donation forms, peer-to-peer fundraising, gratitude-showing donor walls, tribute donations, and more, Donorbox has everything you need to get more donations.

Plus, we have tons of resources to help you sharpen your fundraising strategy. Check out the rest of our Nonprofit Blog for tips and how-tos. Our Library is packed with free, downloadable resources to share with your team. Take a class in Donorbox Academy to amp up your fundraising know-how. Listen to The Nonprofit Podcast with weekly episodes featuring experts talking about their fundraising journey. 


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Charles Z is the Founder and CEO of Donorbox. He has been starting companies and numerous web applications since college. Nowadays he is immersed and wildly excited about the future of the social impact sector.

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