Donation vs. Contribution: What’s the Difference?
Published July 26, 2022
For most people, the words “donation” and “contribution” may mean the same thing. That’s why these two words are often interchanged, especially in terms of charity.
I mean, if you’re donating to charity, then you’re contributing to their cause. That means the same thing, right?
Not really. Contrary to what most people think, donation and contribution can mean very different things. So using one instead of the other can change the meaning of what you’re trying to say and may even confuse some people. This is especially true if you’re using it for your fundraising campaign.
So before you interchange them again, allow us to differentiate donation vs. contribution.
What is a Donation?
According to the dictionary, a donation is something that is given to a charity. It can also be described as a gift or anything given to benefit a cause.
She made a significant donation to her favorite charity after she won the lottery.
Your donation can help save lives.
In the examples above, the term “donation” refers to something handed over or bestowed upon a non-profit organization to help them with their cause.
A donation can take any form. It can be monetary, material things, or services.
What is a Contribution?
Contribution is defined in the Meriam-Webster dictionary as the giving or supplying of something that plays a significant part in making something happen. It also defines it as something given as a part or share.
Other dictionaries, meanwhile, defined contribution as:
- a gift or payment to a common fund or collection
- a sum of money given in order to help pay for something
- something that you give or do to help produce or achieve something together with other people
- the part played by a person in bringing about a result or helping something to advance
If we sum up all these definitions, contribution best be described as something given to a common pool to achieve a common cause.
Take a look at these examples:
- Albert Einstein made a substantial contribution to the advancement of science.
- We all made a contribution to give him a surprise for his birthday.
- All contributions, no matter the amount, will go a long way in helping us achieve our goals.
If you notice in the above examples, the word “contribution” is used to denote something that helped bring about a common goal.
Differentiating Donation vs. Contribution
With the above definitions, we can infer that donation and contribution have three main differences:
1. A donation usually denotes a charitable endowment while a contribution may not necessarily have altruistic motives.
For example, if you want to urge people to give to your cause, telling them to “donate” instead of “contribute” would be more appropriate.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use the word “contribute” in a charitable setting.
For instance, you can say:
“He made a large contribution to the cancer research fund.”
“Your contributions to the Green Earth Fund took us closer to our goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30%.”
2. A donation benefits a cause while a contribution is given to make something happen.
Contributing to something helps bring it to fruition. Meaning, there is one ultimate goal.
Like when you say:
“She made a large contribution to building the community library.”
In this context, the ultimate goal is to build a community library.
But if you use the word “donation” or “donate”, it denotes that the cause is ongoing.
“Your donation will help us feed the homeless in South Florida.”
This shows that the charity’s mission of helping the homeless in South Florida is currently happening and that the donations are making it possible.
3. A donation is voluntarily given while a contribution can be obligatory.
When you say “donate”, you are giving people the option to decline since a donation is always voluntary. But if you say “contribute”, it can come off as obligatory and that it’s their responsibility to “pitch in”.
For instance, it sounds better to say: “Please donate so we can help the poor” rather than “Please contribute so we can help the poor”.
Now that you know the difference between contribution and donation, may this help you create better slogans and materials for your fundraising campaigns.
Donate To The Poor & Homeless Of South Florida
Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen has fed the poor and homeless in South Florida over 900,000 hot meals since 1993. Our tax deductible non profit organization also accepts and distributes donations such as clothing, toiletries, shoes, bicycles, and more. You can donate to help the poor and homeless through our website.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and devoted Christian. She has a passion for writing about topics related to morality and helping the poor and homeless. She is the lead author for the Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen blog.
Correct Digital, Inc is paid by private donors to provide website digital marketing services to this non-profit organization.