How to Lose a Donor in 10 Ways

Philip Manzano • Nov 18, 2016

Acquiring a new donor can be difficult, but losing a donor is alarmingly simple. The post How to Lose a Donor in 10 Ways appeared first on Keela.

Your nonprofit has been bringing in TOO MUCH money. You can all relate, right? It’s time to cut the excess and get rid of a few donors. There are a few tried and true ways that nonprofits have been using for decades in order to effectively lose donors. Nonprofits effectively break ties with donors every single day, some have done it unintentionally, but we all know you’re in the driver’s seat here. Time to burn some bridges.


Part of the conversation here that we cannot forget is ensuring that new donors cannot find you. There’s no point in streaming your donor database to a select few if 10 more will jump on board tomorrow. We simply cannot have it. 

You have two main options here to inform your blocking tactics:

1. Make yourself undiscoverable.

  • Do not share posts on social media
  • Do not send emails or campaigns
  • Do not make phone calls
  • Do not update your website – also, be sure to take down any compelling articles on your website that show impact and results. Donors love that and just cannot have it.
  • Do not attend events
  • Do not turn on the lights in your office – it’s too risky. They may find you.

2. Share controversial content. 

Constantly share strong personal opinions on all social media platforms and make sure you sprinkle some politics in, as well. 

If a donor can either a) not find you or b) disagrees with the dialogue of your organization encouraged, there’s a pretty high chance they won’t donate. Mission accomplished.


Now that we’ve effectively taken care of new donors, it’s time to address the most pesky of them all–your recurring donors. Some of the tactics used in blocking new donors can also have an impact on losing existing donors, so be sure to follow through with the tips mentioned above.

1. Ask them for too much money. 

Way more money than they have ever given before. Also increase the frequency at which you ask for that large amount of money. In fact, anytime you communicate with them, make sure it’s only to ask for more contributions.

2. Hide your ‘ask’. 

If you send an email make 99% of it be focused on content that has nothing to do with what you want and make sure you hide your main ‘ask’ somewhere on the bottom. You can do the same by burying campaigns and donate buttons deep in your website. The less they know about what you want, the less likely they will be to donate. Again, mission accomplished.

3. Never meet your donors in person and never call. 

A personal touch will keep them stuck on you like hot glue to a popsicle stick. The less they know about you and your organization, the better. Don’t do anything to encourage a positive relationship.

4. Ghost your donor. 

AKA stop replying to emails, don’t answer phone calls, don’t send any messages. This appears to be what happened to Wild Woman Fundraising, and it seemed to work effectively.

5. Never say thank you. 

That warm and fuzzy feeling people get from gratitude? That’s the kiss of death and it will the donor to your mission. We can’t have that. Repeat this with me: I will never say thank you.

6. Be very unclear in reporting on how their money was used. 

Communicating your impact? Pish posh. The fewer concrete data points in your reports the better. Use fluffy language like “people are happy” to describe your project outputs and outcomes. Don’t share facts, figures or stories of impact. Keep your supporters in the dark!

With these tips you will be well on your way to shaking off the excess donors. Who needs them, anyway? Surprisingly, when their money is on the line, donors can hold you to pretty high standards. Failing to meet a few of those standards can result in donors dropping like flies. Follow the steps outlined above, and you’ll quickly get rid of the rest, too. 

Had a change of heart? Want to keep your donors around? Try some of these resources for great tips — and do the opposite!

Has a nonprofit ever turned you off donating to their organization? What did they do? We love hearing from you in the comments. Share your stories! 

The post How to Lose a Donor in 10 Ways appeared first on Keela.