Have you ever wondered why people don’t give? Or why people don’t give more? A frustrating question that took on a new meaning for me after I had visited a project in Zambia I was working on with Spark Ventures. After coming back I felt so passionate, so broken, so desperate to help that when people wouldn’t give I would think to myself “why don’t you get it!!!”. Fundraising from a position of “why don’t you get it” is a recipe for disaster however as not everyone does get it and why should they? Not everyone has the same hands on experience that I had. Not everyone has fewer concerns here at home and can focus on things like Zambia. Not everyone is like me (or like you as a fundraiser) and we need to respect that. So as I pushed further for an answer to the question of “why people don’t give” I found a great resource in a book titled “The Life You Can Save” by Peter Singer.

In the book, Singer talks about how ridiculous it is to think that if we were walking by a kid drowning in a pond that we would just keep on walking and not do anything. Even if it costs us something (like our clothes and shoes or possibly wallet) the vast majority of us would do something to save that child. Yet, when we try to make that very case (children need help and you can give it) in the world of fundraising many times people just delete the email, throw away the mailer or ignore the plea. Why is there this disconnect? Using a variety of psychological studies, survey’s and anecdotes, Singer lays out 6 main reasons why people don’t give. The book, which has a large bent towards international causes but the principles would apply to almost any organization, also goes on to give some advice on how you can combat these reasons. But without further ado here they are.

6 Reasons Why People Don’t Give More

  1. Identifiable victim
  2. Sense of fairness
  3. Parochialism
  4. Money
  5. Diffusion of responsibility
  6. Futility

Check out the infographic below with more information on each of them and what you can do to overcome these obstacles standing in the way of charitable giving.

Why Don't We Give More Infographic