Debunking the Myth of Donor Fatigue

We’ve all heard the term ‘donor fatigue’, used to describe the feelings of apathy that arises in donors who’ve been hit up by charities one too many times. But here’s the thing: if your donors are losing enthusiasm for your cause, it’s unlikely to be because you’re asking too often. More likely, it’s because you’re not asking in the right way.

We’ll admit, it’s more convenient to blame donor fatigue for dwindling donations than it is to reexamine your strategy and make some improvements. But we promise it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Here are a few simple ways you can enhance your donor communications, re-energise your fundraising strategy and have your donors digging deep again in no time.

1. Tailor your comms.

We all want to feel like we’re special, unique snowflakes – and that includes when we’re being asked to donate to a cause. Impersonal comms will deliver lacklustre results. Address your supporters by name and segment your comms so that the message is tailored to the supporter. If they’ve given previously or participated in an event in the past, acknowledge it. Remind them what they’ve achieved previously and how that helped your cause so that they feel inspired to do so again. Make it personal.

2. Have an attitude of gratitude.

It’s amazing how much a simple ‘thank you’ can achieve. Supporters want to feel appreciated – and not just when you’re asking them for something. Say thanks, say it a lot – and don’t just say it privately. If you’ve got a gun fundraiser who’s been kicking goals, give them a shout out on your social media channels or e-newsletter. Better yet, hold a thank you event and invite all your fundraisers to come together and celebrate each other’s efforts. Recognition is a powerful emotional driver and shouldn’t be underestimated.

3. Get creative.

If your bake sales and fun runs aren’t delivering the same results they used to, it could be time to change up your thinking. Some of the most successful campaigns of recent years have been the most creative – like Go Balls Out, Testicular Cancer NZ’s cheeky campaign which asked participants to create a willy-shaped route on their fitness app. The Cupid’s Undie Run, an initiative by the Children’s Tumour Foundation of Australia, was another innovative campaign that put a fun and novel twist on a traditional format to achieve great results. The more weird and wonderful your idea, the more memorable, engaging and PR-able it’s likely to be.

4. Leverage your star supporters’ networks.

The great thing about Peer-to-Peer fundraising is that it’s not you that’s doing the asking. Equally, people still need a gentle nudge from time to time: encourage your star performers to share their journey with their networks and coach them on the best ways to do it. Our recent study found that participants who make the effort to regularly update their fundraising pages and reach out to their networks via email raise significantly more funds than those who don’t.

5. Let donors choose how they give (and how much).

Not everyone is in a position to give monthly. Some people prefer to donate at the end of financial year. Others like to donate as part of an event and feel like they’re part of a community. Point is, one size doesn’t fit all. If you’re only asking people to donate in one way, you’re potentially missing out. Similarly, giving people multiple donation handles to select from gives them control of how much they are donating and enables them to make a swift choice. On the flipside, being inflexible about the donation amount or not giving donors a choice can work against you.

Ultimately, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive – so don’t let the myth of donor fatigue discourage you from reaching out to your supporters. If you work on those donor relationships year-round and keep your approach fresh and engaging, there’s no reason your fundraising should suffer.

For more advice on Peer-to-Peer fundraising and how to improve your donor communications, contact us on