As we reflect on our last and final #GivingTuesday webinar, we’re reminded of the many great questions participants asked during Q&A. One subject in particular piqued the interest of several attendees, and inspired us to address this elephant in the rooms of all fundraising organizations—donor fatigue.
Although officially defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting from the frequency of such appeals,” some still debate whether or not donor fatigue actually even exists. Those who don’t believe it exists feel that it is an invented term that is used as an excuse for poor fundraising results, while those who do believe it exists feel it’s the result of poor fundraising strategies.
“Donor fatigue isn’t easily defined,” said Rachel Lewis, Director of Digital Strategy at Social Factor. “Statistics can’t clearly quantify its proliferation, but even so, the threat of donor fatigue has caused nonprofits to rethink their strategies.”
Brad Davies, Vice President of Digital Services at Dunham+Company, a fundraising consulting company, proposes an alternative definition for this phenomenon—“A more appropriate description would be ‘donor apathy’ rather than donor fatigue,” he asserted. “Donors aren’t tired of supporting causes they care about, organizations have failed to excite them or talk about what they do in a new way that inspires donors to continue giving.”
Because most donors don’t respond to being repeatedly beseeched to support a cause, organizations are faced with a considerable challenge. “They’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Miriam Kagan, Senior Principal at Kimbia. “Asking for money gets you money, but then there are folks who get turned off by being asked so much, and it’s difficult to predict who those people will be.”
So why are donors tired of and/or indifferent about the messages organizations are sending? Our panel of experts weighed in with a few key reasons. We’ll address these in greater detail in our follow up post:
- Donor does not feel a personal connection with the organization
- Messages aren’t tailored to the individual donor
- Messages focus on what the organization does rather than whom they help
Do you believe in donor fatigue? What strategies do you use to prevent supporters from losing interest in supporting your organization’s cause/mission? Take this short, four-question Donor Fatigue Survey and your anonymous responses will be aggregated for inclusion in our part two follow up – stay tuned for strategic advice on preventing donor fatigue from our panel of experts!