Why must organizations honor donors’ requests to remain anonymous? Donors may have many legitimate reasons for wishing to remain anonymous, and it is essential that nonprofits respect these requests. A study conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that only 10 months after the recession hit in 2008, the percentage of anonymous gifts over a million dollars increased dramatically (nearly 20% of all gifts over $1 million were made anonymously compared to only 3-5% over the previous 10 years).1 In times of recession when the donor pool gets smaller, individuals may wish to remain anonymous to avoid attracting greater pressure from charities or because they feel uncomfortable making a public display of wealth when so many are in financial crisis. Donors may also wish to remain anonymous if they are supporting a cause for the first time or if they feel they may not be able to contribute in future years.1
Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy found that donors most often cite avoiding solicitation from other charities and keeping donations secret from friends and family as the most common reasons for wishing to remain anonymous.1 Ensuring that donors’ wishes to remain anonymous are honoured is an important way for nonprofits and charities to form relationships with donors that are based on mutual respect and trust.
Nonprofits and charities will honour donors’ requests to remain anonymous both in terms of:2
- The amount of their contribution and;
- Having their name publicly released as a supporter of the organization
In certain cases, accepting an anonymous donation could be risky for a charity and should be considered carefully. For instance, the source or amount of a donation may be perceived to affect the independence of the charity. In these cases the organization may seek to negotiate the terms of public disclosure with the donor.2
From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section C: Fundraising," Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.
- “Anonymous Giving Gains Popularity as the Recession Deepens,” Ben Gose, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 30th 2009.
- “Ethical Code Handbook,” Imagine Canada, February 2011.
Standards Reference Guide