Some, usually development professionals, believe donor fatigue will occur unless donors are “given a rest” now and then – i.e., the organization declares a moratorium of some duration on mailings and phone calls. While others, mostly those who habitually dream up reasons to launch yet another campaign, deny there is such a thing.
I have come to the conclusion that donor fatigue can exist, particularly as a result of repeated bombardment by solicitations several times a year. But I have also observed that lots of donors self-regulate by selectively tearing up and tossing or otherwise dodging those solicitations. They also tend to get progressively annoyed. So from that standpoint, the development professionals have a point.
However, I don’t ascribe to the idea that “resting donors” is the “fix” because I am not at all persuaded that giving should or must be exhausting. And the notion, “give ‘til it hurts,” …no way! Must it be painful? Absolutely not!
Okay, I recognize a lot of money has been raised by hard selling and the twisting of arms on behalf of university, hospital, and the like campaigns. But, too often, the gift given is actually the answer to an unasked question, “What is the least I can get away with giving to what they are pitching?” Too often it is a joyless, and sometimes even outright annoying way of giving, which fosters a stronger proclivity to dodge such pitches in the future.
Why must it be exhausting? Shouldn’t it be satisfying and joyful? Can’t it be exhilarating? For the many donors who have chosen to use a community foundation to help them shape and pursue their charitable objectives, it certainly has…and with no arm-twisting.
When someone gives to something they have come to really care about and to which they feel their gift will make a substantial difference, it feels great! They won’t need rest due to “fatigue.” Rather, they are energized by what is accomplished by their giving! So much so, that if able, they will want to give more. And in the end, that's what we all want to see happen.