The 4 causes of “donor fatigue”

The first time I heard about “coronavirus fatigue” was last May. I was in a meeting of an organization looking at fundraising results from the first few weeks of spreading virus, job loss, and shutdowns.

Fundraising results were amazing. Twice normal for that time of year.

“But that’s about to end,” one self-appointed expert chimed in. “Now there’s gonna be coronavirus fatigue. Donors have had it with our messaging, and they will mutiny if we keep it up!”

Fortunately, the organization didn’t follow that advice. They kept fundraising, and results stayed at record levels. They’re still at record levels. After a full year, no coronavirus fatigue.

Because, as the Veritus Group Blog points out, Donor Fatigue is a Myth.

“Donor fatigue” is an excuse that lets us off the hook when we get tired of fundraising, or we drop the ball and don’t connect with donors.

As the Veritus post notes, when any given donor gives less or stops giving, there are four likely causes:

  1. There may be something going on with a donor’s personal financial situation.
  2. You aren’t asking, or you aren’t asking enough.
  3. You don’t have a compelling offer for the donor to inspire them to give.
  4. You aren’t telling the donor that her giving made a difference.

Only #1 is out of your control.

And none of them are “donor fatigue.”

The real problem that costs so many organizations so much revenue is fundraiser fatigue — when we get tired of going out to donors again and again.

So we cite a made-up theory about all donors getting tired of us and annoyed with our messaging …

Which is easy to believe because we’re already tired of it …

So we cut back or even halt connecting with donors …

And what happens?

Giving drops!

And “donor fatigue” is given as the excuse! It’s not us, it’s them!

But it’s us.

Donor fatigue is not real. Don’t listen to the “experts” who tell you it is.

When your fundraising is down, look first at what you’re doing: Are you staying relevant to your donors? Are you giving them the chance to make a difference? Are you letting them know their giving really matters?

Those things are hard work. I understand fundraiser fatigue. I feel it myself, and wish I could blame someone else so I could have a break.

But that’s not how I’ll succeed in fundraising.


Comments

2 responses to “The 4 causes of “donor fatigue””

  1. Hello,
    You have well written about Donor Fatigue. You have correctly pointed out why donor might stop donating to a cuase. I have personal experience that we never know why donor stopped donating to if there is no communication. We at https://giftmytrip.com are trying convert each e-transaction into a social e-transaction in travel & tourism sector. Non profits can list themselves on https://giftmytrip.com and sit back. The rest will be done by our online booking platform.

  2. Hello,
    You have well written about Donor Fatigue. You have correctly pointed out why donor might stop donating to a cuase. I have personal experience that we never know why donor stopped donating to if there is no communication. We at https://giftmytrip.com are trying convert each e-transaction into a social e-transaction in travel & tourism sector. Non profits can list themselves on https://giftmytrip.com and sit back. The rest will be done by our online booking platform.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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