The Truth About Donor Fatigue and 5 Ways to Combat It

Between several natural disasters and the approaching holiday season, the phrase "donor fatigue" has been thrown around by those in the nonprofit sector. Here are some tips to keep your donors happy as the giving season approaches. 

What is donor fatigue?

Donor fatigue is a phrase referring to the feeling a donor has when he or she is being inundated with donation requests. This can cause a donor to no longer feel invested in their favorite organizations due to a diminished sense of urgency or a desensitization to the emotional appeal made by these nonprofits. 

Many experts are speculating that donor fatigue is a myth. They believe that donors will never get tired of giving to causes they support, but rather they can begin to feel used and under appreciated. Whether or not you believe donor fatigue is a real phenomenon, it is still important to show donors that you value their commitment to your organization, especially in the lead up to the giving season.

Ways to keep your donors happy

1. Be transparent about where donations are going

People like to know they are actually having an impact when they make a donation. Create a clear infographic, like the Atlanta Community Food Bank, that shows donors how their money is truly helping those who need it. 

2. Do something special for your donors

Show your donors how much you care! Throw a party for your donors where you do not accept donations to your cause; this shows your donors you care about them beyond their financial contributions. Or, you can simply thank donors somewhere public, like on your website or in promotional materials, to show your appreciation. 

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The National Cherry Blossom Festival thanks all their donors and supporters on their website. 

3. Only express urgency when it's actually true 

Don't make every donation campaign the most important of them all. If you are always expressing a sense of urgency, the phrase will begin to lose meaning. Never make your donors feel pressured to donate, or guilty if they can't. 

4. Offer ways to give back besides monetary donations

People can get tired of constantly reaching into their wallets. Offer other ways to give back such as blood drives, local park clean ups and packaging goods for the homeless.


5. Keep them in the loop 

Make major donors feel like an integral part of your organization, because they are! Invite them to board meetings, ask their opinion on upcoming fundraisers or share insider information with them. This will give them a better understanding of your organization and make them feel more connected to the cause.