Have donations to your Nonprofit hit a plateau? Have previously active donors suddenly disappeared? Are you having trouble engaging high-level donors? If so, your Nonprofit may be suffering from donor fatigue:

Do·nor Fa·tigue   noun
1. a lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting in part from the frequency of such appeals.

In other words, bombarding your supporters with bland and monotonous appeals for donations may diminish donor interest and weaken your base. We all know a solid donor base is critical to the success of your Nonprofit, which means keeping donors active, engaged and excited.

Following are four simple ways to treat donor fatigue and replenish the passion your donors have for your Nonprofit and its mission:

1. Be Choosy About Communication Channels

It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again: Communication is key to keeping donors informed and open to giving. Approach each donor – particularly those who donate larger amounts – with an individualized communication plan. Some prefer email over phone calls, others rarely sit down at a computer but love to chat on the phone.

Learn how your donors like to be approached by surveying them using any free online survey service, such as SurveyMonkey. If you use some other software to manage your contact database, see if it has an option or recommendation for how to survey your contacts. Offer simple choices and ask them to select their preferred method of communication:


Record your donors’ preferences and group them by their choices. Then create tailored campaigns for that group with a higher frequency of communication than your general campaigns, such as your quarterly newsletter which should go out on all channels at least once every three months.

2. Keep it Fresh

A television show that’s become repetitive, a restaurant that’s lost its culinary edge, a book club that becomes bland – when people get bored, they tune out and find other ways to spend their time and money. Keep your donors excited with new events, better communication and stories from your mission that tugs at their emotions long before it tugs at their wallet.

Take the time to search for internal stories from your Nonprofit’s mission that are unique and engaging. Utilize new channels like social media and video sites like YouTube to spread stories about your mission and the people who are impacted. Many smartphones have software built in for capturing and editing simple videos that you can upload to YouTube. Attach these short videos to your written social media posts or within emails to boost the likelihood that your donors will engage with your content. The idea here is to keep it interesting and exciting.

3. Make it Monthly

Do your donors seem to go into hiding at certain times of the year? Keep funding flowing and eliminate the feeling that you’re harassing your members by adding a monthly ongoing donation option to your fundraising efforts via their preferred communication medium. Donors won’t get fatigued when they sign up once and expect automatic monthly donations. Then you can focus on telling your story and keeping them engaged rather than asking for funding constantly.

Many Nonprofits do this by offering a monthly “Membership” where the donors gets something in return for their support, such as periodic updates about the impact of their donation. Make sure you are communicating via their preferred medium (See #1) and be upfront about how often you plan on communicating with them.

4. Keep it Real

Express gratitude for any past donations, but don’t immediately go into the “ask” for new funding. If a donor doesn’t feel they have made a difference, they may not continue donating. Tell them how they specifically helped the cause. For example, “That $1,000 donation you made in 2011 helped feed an entire family for a month and funded critical vaccinations.” Then, if possible, mention some names and any other interesting details of the recipients to humanize the donation experience. When a donor feels a true connection, the likelihood of future donations skyrockets.

Do you have any other strategies that have worked well for curing donor fatigue? Leave a comment with some suggestions that have worked well for you in the past!

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About Jeff Cova

Jeff Cova, President of Winspire, Inc., has over 17 years of experience in the Nonprofit and fundraising industry. Prior to Winspire, Jeff worked for 5 years as the Director of Development at Cal State Fullerton before co-founding a company specializing in producing charity auctions for Nonprofits where he successfully produced the auctions for 250 of Southern California’s most successful fundraising events.

In 2008 Jeff founded Winspre with the goal of helping non-profits across the country increase their event fundraising revenue and identify new fundraising sources. Jeff and his team at Winspire have helped over 12,000 non-profits to date. You can also find Jeff on Google+.

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