It’s not you, It’s me


Are you tired? Drained? Feeling like an automated fundraising machine? Hopeless? Discouraged? Uninspired?

(Cue the infomercial music)


Yes, I know, because I can tell.


In the Fundraising space we hear the same thing over and over again.  My donor base is exhausted, I can’t ask again.  You are right, you shouldn’t ask again.


Think about it : Are my donors really exhausted, or am I the tired one.  Is it them or me?  


In order to figure out the solution, let’s dissect the problem.


do·nor fa·tigue – Noun A lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting from the frequency of such appeals.


What causes this Tzaris:

  • Too many appeals.
  • All take and no give.
  • Lack of Donor stewardship.
  • Uninspired Fundraisers.


How to turn it around:

  • Too many appeals Our inboxes, hearts and brains are filled so much information it can become overwhelming.  However the reality is that in order for your organization to raise funds you need to have multiple asks.  A practical solution is to create and stick to a yearly schedule. Maintaining a schedule provides you the structure to space out your appeals proactively. Important to note that sometimes too many appeals are really just too many of the same appeals.  Switch it up, every initiative should have a new and exciting feel.  If you always do the same thing you will always have the same results.
  • All take, no give – You can’t just take take take from your donors.  When a person donates to a cause it is because they want to change the world.  Give them that satisfaction!  Not every communication you have with your community should end in DONATE NOW. The general flow of fundraising is 1: Ask 2: Thank 3: Update.  As fundraisers we are all about the the Ask, when in reality our donors are much more fulfilled by Thanks and Updates. It feels counterintuitive but sometimes, you just need to say thanks and give updates.  Period.    
  • Lack of Donor stewardshipIf you personally call every single one of your donors, you will be the first person to go over an unlimited call plan and suffer the long term effects of boredom. Your middle/large tiered donors deserve more than just an email or phone call, but this can become repetitive and boring for you (and they can tell), get creative! Send (or deliver personally) a gift that is relevant to them.  Do they like golf, coffee, puppies? Send them a book, a gift card, theatre tickets, flowers, a masseuse.  Whatever it is that will show them you care about them as an individual, not just their checkbook.  Knowing your donors feel happy and valued will make your job so much more positive.  Happy Donors = Happy Fundraisers.  
  • Uninspired Fundraisers – Being a non profit professional is a difficult job.  No matter what you do you feel like it’s never enough.  You can never raise enough money, you can never really solve to problem, you can never have enough new donors. Take a moment to reflect and realize all the good you have done for the world.  If you need a break, take it.  If you need to start delegating some tasks out, do it.  In other words make yourself a priority, as a matter of fact make yourself top priority.     


Next time you have the urge to blame your donors for being uninspired and drying up, realize it may be you. Any healthy relationship requires two happy parties. A little energy shift on your end will make a world of difference for your Donor Engagement.  It’s easy to lose sight of what you are doing and become overwhelmed with your workload. Don’t transfer that feeling to your donors, they feel it, and it ain’t good.  

Approach them with happiness, pride, hope for change. It’s a pretty contagious feeling that will bring just the right kind of vibe to your donors.