Fundraising Q/A: Why Do People Give Anonymously?

There can be any number of reasons why a donor may not want their largesse known. Here are a few examples that I’ve encountered:

  • Some people simply believe that the only true giving is unknown.
  • Others may not be interested in public recognition, but not mind if people think nicely of them.
  • Someone who has made a sizeable gift may fear a deluge of requests from other organizations or causes.
  • Someone prominent in his or her community who decides to make a gift to an institution in another town may not wish to rattle cages at home.

Understanding the donor’s motivation can help you determine whether he or she is asking for complete secrecy or just wants to stay below the radar. You must honor their wishes, of course, but try to keep anonymous gifts the exception rather than the rule.

A prominent donor can lend social cachet to your cause and/or may inspire others to follow suit. A sophisticated donor will understand that, and may be responsive to something like this: “You’re such a role model. May we use your name, in announcing your generous gift?”

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