By Drew Fox Jordan • December 7, 2021

    Donors Are Getting Burnt Out. Are You Using The Right Messaging?

    donors burnt out right messaging

    Of the many phrases the pandemic has brought to the limelight, "pandemic fatigue" could be one of the top newcomers to our vocabulary. In March of 2020, our entire lives became about the virus, from jobs to families, all the way to the economy and the way we led our daily lives. Now, 20 months later, the phrase "pandemic fatigue" still lingers, but in different forms.

    In philanthropy, we know this as "donor fatigue." This concept had existed pre-pandemic, but after a year and a half of catastrophic fires, floods, economic downturn, and social unrest, donors that no longer want to give are likely feeling uninspired.

    On paper, it wouldn't make any sense that a donor, in this scenario specifically a major donor, would lose interest in giving during a time where the organizations and causes they support most are in the direst need. However, these appeals' continuing emotional toll is exhausting donors and reducing relationships to transactional at best. Donors have started to feel like nonprofits view them as check-writing machines when donors want to understand charities' work on a human level.

    Join 30,000+ fundraising professionals that receive our weekly Sunday newsletter with industry trends, tips, and analysis delivered right to your inbox

    As a result, many donors that broadly supported basic needs at the onset of the pandemic have begun to transition back into the support of specific causes that align with their current values. For example, short-term support for food banks in 2020 was at its highest levels ever. But many of those donors have switched focus away from food banks and into causes that tackle food insecurity head-on. While they are still supporting a noble cause, the collateral damage is an organization that once relied on their support left with a giant hole that seemingly no one can fill.

    There is a solution to this problem. The answer is not to use a particular subject line when emailing donors or a tool your fundraisers have to adopt and learn. Instead, the answer lies in clearly communicating with your donors.

    Changing Your Messaging

    It's understood that organizations are already communicating with donors. Otherwise, how would fundraisers be doing their jobs? Instead of doing more of the same, nonprofits should adjust its messaging to donors to reflect the impact their gift would have on the future.

    We give so much of our emotional attention to the tragedy that surrounds us that there is little room left when it comes time to appeal to donors. Yet, giving is ultimately an emotional function. Breaking through to these donors who have experienced pandemic fatigue - and as a result, giving fatigue - will require fundraisers to focus their language on the good that lies ahead instead of the turmoil we leave behind.

    Potential Gains

    An added benefit of taking a forward-thinking approach is how it makes you stand out to potential donors. Meeting requests often inundate affluent donors in a giving climate that sees fewer and fewer individual donors every year. As a result, the competition for donor dollars is becoming fierce. Every organization needs support. But the organizations that can show they are committed to improving their communities tomorrow will ultimately attract more donors.

    Your donors are more than blank checks. They deserve to know that their gifts won't act as a bandage over the same problem they have heard about for the past year and a half. Instead, communicating what impact their gifts will have tomorrow will inspire them to keep coming back and continue supporting until the mission is complete.

    A significant part of effective communication with donors lies in fundraisers' emotional intelligence. Gravyty was recently joined by Paul Mylott of the Mylott Group to discuss the role emotional intelligence has in the philanthropic space and how it can be used to manage pipeline velocity. You can watch the webinar in full for free and learn more:

    The Mylott Group - Behavioral Chain Philanthropy



    Posts by Topic

    see all