Most of us in the field of development are familiar with the term "donor fatigue." We would define donor fatigue as what happens when you go to the same well too many times for financial support. The moment where a donor sits back and thinks, “Really? Am I the only one who gives to this mission?”
So, let’s start with the truth. Yes, it is true that most nonprofits go to the same donors too many times each year. Throughout our work we’ve discovered that the majority of our non-profits ask their core donor base for money between 12 and 18 times a year on average, not to mention that donors give to multiple missions annually. With these statistics, it’s easy to see how these donors could quickly become fatigued.
Marketing professionals will tell you that the more you ask, the more donors will give. Well we say, BALONEY! Just because you can ask more often and get a little more, doesn’t mean you should! Take a real life example, if one day you were to ask your good friend for $50, they would give it to you without hesitation. If you asked again the next day, they would likely give it to you again. If you asked a third day, your friend would likely ask you what is going on, and then give it to you again. Although you’re getting the money each time, you are stressing and damaging your relationship with your friend along the way.
News flash: development really is about relationships! More specifically, balanced relationships. Donors should receive something they personally value in return for their generosity. Fatigue comes from donors who are unfulfilled in their giving and whose relationships are out of balance with the nonprofits they support.
- Remember that you are establishing and deepening relationships with real people.
- Try to step into your donors' shoes and gather a sense for how they experience your organization.
- Interact with your donor a few times annually without asking for money - don’t treat them as a checkbook.
- Help your donors feel fulfilled in their giving, tell them about the impact their gift has had on your organization!
We believe if you try the suggestions above, you will see some exciting results. And donor fatigue? It will be replaced with donor passion.