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Just For Nonprofits: Dealing With Donor Fatigue
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Just For Nonprofits: Dealing With Donor Fatigue - Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Dealing With Donor Fatigue

Executive Leadership Articles

Just For Nonprofits: Dealing With Donor Fatigue

It’s that time of year when a certain national youth organization brings out its big cookie-sale fundraiser, an event that’s somehow both eagerly anticipated and secretly dreaded by office mates, neighbors, mall-cruisers, and supermarket shoppers. The anticipation is for the convenient excuse to break New Year’s resolutions for a good cause and a tasty product. The dread is for another season of either avoiding eye contact with earnest children or digging more deeply into our pockets than we’re comfortable with, for the purpose of maintaining goodwill among colleagues and cousins.

Not everyone feels that dread, of course, and that’s an advantage this organization has over many others: its product is nearly universally beloved, such that supporters usually can’t wait for another go-around with presales signup sheets. Other kinds of fundraising efforts sometimes have the opposite feel, and as raisers of support, we often sense a kind of fatigue, even from our best donors. Have we sent one email per week too many? Are we going to the well too frequently?

Some fundraising professionals say donor fatigue is a myth, as Simone Joyaux at Non-Profit Quarterly explains: “It’s a cheap excuse! I think lousy fundraising and poorly informed fundraisers make donors frustrated, angry, and fatigued by that particular organization.” Whether donor fatigue is real or imagined, this position puts the burden on fundraisers to be attentive, respectful, and focused in their efforts. Raising funds is not about wringing droplets of support from reluctant givers--it’s about connecting with people on issues they care about. If that connection isn’t being made, it’s not because donors are tired of giving. It’s because we’re not doing our jobs in making the right connection.

The Kimbia blog takes a similar position, reminding us that “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 keep giving.” Here’s where even a successful, venerated fundraising effort such as the national cookie sale could stand to be juiced up for those who aren’t cookie fans. Rather than focusing on boxes of cookies or cute photos of children wishing to lead their district in sales for a third straight year, some effort might be made to share the stories created by these funds. Get donors excited by your work, and you might still get a few nos this time around, but you won’t get them forever, because when people are excited about the work you do, they want to be involved.

Social media is playing an increasing role in fundraising, and the better online platforms provide guidance for groups using their services. As we wrote in our exploration of these platforms, they are not meant to make less work for the fundraiser. They are meant to provide more direct, personal contact with potential donors who are looking for organizations addressing their concerns. The advice offered by the platforms is good for us all, even those of us not using such services.

Since these platforms work with many groups in multiple sectors, they have data and narratives to help you know how often is too often with email blasts or pleas for donations on social media, all with the intention of connecting with givers and avoiding donor fatigue, whether it actually exists or not.

Links:
Non-Proft Quarterly: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2013/03/15/donor-fatigue-an-excuse-for-poor-fundraising-practices/
Kimbia: https://www.kimbia.com/donor-fatigue-fundraising-fiction/

 

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Just For Nonprofits: Dealing With Donor Fatigue - Executive Leadership Articles

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