How to avoid donor fatigue

Bombarding your donors with fundraising requests can exhaust them.
Date Published
07/09/2015

Nonprofits need to be constantly fundraising. Donors can become disinterested or even annoyed by consistent requests for support over time. Donor fatigue is a problem many organizations have had to deal with at some point in their history.

There are steps a nonprofit can take to maintain supporter enthusiasm and keep gifts coming in.

Reinforce your nonprofit’s ongoing mission
Donor fatigue is most often seen after major incidents call for public support. Media and social sites empower people to give but they don’t encourage long-term investment.

Major disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis capture the world’s attention and get people motivated to help. After the initial event is over, however, funds begin the dry up. Devex stated organizations helping tragedies like the Nepal earthquake have to allocate early funds to cover needs that crop up after the public has lost interest.

Ongoing nonprofits don’t just raise money for singular events but they do gain attention from news stories affecting their missions. Organizations may use these incidents to spread their message to new donors but they should be careful about asking for huge sums that exhaust new audiences. Big asks can turn off donors. Fundraisers that raise huge sums and advertise substantial amounts collected may communicate to audiences all goals have been met.

Instead, organization can ask for specific funds, then communicate exactly how the money raised was spent and why there is a still a need for more support.

Donor messaging shouldn’t be constant requests for money
Organizations that need consistent funds like schools or public broadcast stations may reach the “tipping point.” NonProfit Pro described the tipping point as when donor contributions plateau or decline after constant fundraising efforts.

Too many nonprofits see quantity as the key to fundraising communication and forget about quality. Organizations should avoid donor fatigue by contacting donors with strategic messages as opposed to constant ones. Nonprofit software can design a donor mailing system that varies up requests. Data captured from previous fundraising efforts creates targeted message content designed for specific audiences. Schedule projections predict times when fundraising efforts should be ramped up and when they can relax.

Not all communications have to be asks. Donors want to be treated like partners, not cash machines. Network For Good recommended using strategies that personalize your relationships. You can call your contributors to say thank you after a successful campaign, send out stories of the effects your nonprofit has had in the community or highlight donors who contributed something beside money to the mission on social media.

Treating people like members of your nonprofit, rather than a resource, gets them invested in the cause and motivates them to continue participating anyway they can.

You also need to avoid fundraising fatigue
Personal stories not only keep donors interested, they keep you invested. The Fundraising Coach said donor fatigue is often related to fundraiser fatigue.

Enthusiasm is a two-way street. Volunteers and organization staff should work diligently on nonprofit strategies. Fundraising messaging needs to be shared through multiple channels in order to reach the widest possible audience. Some nonprofit members, though, get tired of sending the same message over and over. Fundraising software automates communication routines and spares your people from busy work. This frees up volunteers and staff to use more creative fundraising strategies.

Let your people have input on fundraising efforts. People are more excited about performing tasks that represent their voice and ideas. The excitement coming from your volunteers and staff is heard by donors and they will match the energy. Employ software tools for mass communications so human fundraisers can meet with supporters one-on-one and create real relationships.

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