Everyone is wringing their hands over the drop in giving in 2022.

“The Giving USA annual report on philanthropy showed that, in 2022, nonprofits raised $499.33 billion — a 3.4% year-over-year drop in current dollars and a 10.5% downturn when adjusted for inflation.” (NonProfit Pro)

And the culprit, for many of these hand wringers, is the economy. It always is.

Let’s blame this outside force for the internal disease that exists in the non-profit world. Things are tight, they say, and so people cut their giving.


Well, here’s the real story. Donor dissatisfaction is what drives donors to reduce their giving more than any other factor in philanthropy.

Here’s what that dissatisfaction looks like:

  1. Not telling the donor their giving is making a difference.

    This is the big one. Jeff and I, and our team of coaches experience this every day. A donor gives and then they’re never told how their giving made a difference. Think about it. You gave to make a difference on the planet, but you don’t know if that difference happened. Why would you give again? You wouldn’t.

  2. Not serving the donor’s passions and interests.

    This one is in second place. Think about it this way. You walk into your favorite clothing retail store, and you’re looking for shoes. But the customer service person keeps directing you to coats. Those wonderful coats. You explain your interest is shoes. But you just can’t get out of the coat section. The customer service person is determined that you will be interested in coats. Frustrating. You may think this example is absurd, but in hundreds, maybe thousands, of tests where we express interest in giving to X, we get literature and responses about Y. It happens all the time. Check your stewardship messaging to see what I mean. If you keep me in the coat section when I am interested in shoes, I will leave your store. Period.

While it’s true that there are a lot of other things that cause donor dissatisfaction, these are the two biggies. Straighten these two out, and you will retain more donors and retain more giving.

Don’t be looking for external reasons for a drop in giving. Look inside your own house. THAT is where the problem is.