There have been a number of recent posts on various blogs looking at the reasons why people don’t give to charity.

Last week I added to the debate when I wrote about nine techniques that donors use to avoid giving to appeals.

Reading them, you’ll see that they could more accurately be described as the techniques donors use to avoid making a decision about giving.

They allow the donor to distance themselves from having to refuse a gift. If you are a nice charitable person, saying no to a good cause can generate some real self-esteem or guilt issues. Handily, the blow can be softened by placing the blame elsewhere.

But donors do actively make decisions not to give and at Bluefrog we see tackling these barriers as a central part of any fundraising strategy. As a result, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in research looking at what they are and how we address them.

We’ve identified three main reasons.


It’s an obvious one. But one that perhaps too few charities give consideration too. If you don’t have much disposable income or feel uncertain or insecure about the future, there is a negative impact on giving behaviour. We also discovered that a significant number of people going through a major transition in their life – child birth, divorce, job change, house moving – also restrict giving.


This covers the age old complaint of admin costs, concerns over corruption and mismanagement and the relative lack of worth of the cause. Interestingly, it can also relate to gift prompts that are seen as being too small to make any difference to the problem being tackled.


There may be no awareness of the organisation or the cause. The potential donor may be emotionally occupied elsewhere and‘can’t be bothered’ to give. The emotional distance between the donor and those in need might be too great and, of course, the donor may be emotionally withdrawn to the point that don’t have any need to give.

These barriers can be tackled in different ways.

The first, by offering a very low entry price – an example of which is detailed here – and through making giving easy.

The second requires an emphasis on efficiency and demonstrating beneficiary need. Being open and developing credibility is an essential part of this process.

The third is the most important and can only be tackled by taking the donor perspective and responding to their needs. Which you can find more about here.