Many priests and parish staff dread talking stewardship and fundraising with their parishioners. Appealing to them to increase their giving or fund a new campaign may yield a strong response at first, but it can wane over time. How can you fight “donor fatigue” and inspire givers to stay the course so you can meet your goals?
What is donor fatigue?
Donor fatigue happens when people stop giving to a church/nonprofit/organization. This could be a temporary pause, or it could be permanent, depending on the steps taken.
Why does it happen?
- Too many requests, making donors feel tapped out. Being asked over and over, especially if the person has already donated, increases the likelihood of donor fatigue.
- Misunderstood motivations. Charities generally like to gear appeals based on what they think will motivate donors to give again. They may assume they gave to a certain campaign for “reason A,” but it could actually be “reason B.” Being informed about your donor base can help this.
- Requests that are generic or poorly timed. The “ask” may be a bad fit for the cause or the donor’s capacity, and it’s even worse if the message is impersonal. Likewise, sending an appeal to a donor too soon after they have donated may dissuade them from donating again anytime soon.
- False urgency or lack of transparency. Requests in the aftermath of a natural disaster have a sense of urgency, but not every appeal rises to that level and should not be treated as such. Doing so may turn off your donors. The same goes for lack of transparency — if your request doesn’t explain the purpose and impact of the donation clearly, then you risk losing that donor’s support.
How to combat fatigue
Here are some steps that can keep donors consistently giving.
- Get to know them. Take an inventory of the things that interest them, their lifestyles, and how much support they may be able to give to a cause. Doing this regularly can help you keep track of changes in their lives and understand reasons for changes in giving habits.
- Keep them informed. Updating them on the progress of a fundraising effort or a project gives them a tangible way to see their dollars at work. Making them feel like a partner in your efforts can lead to sustained giving.
- Invite them to get involved. Invitations to open houses, tours, galas, volunteer opportunities, or other events also can make the donors see what has been done with their money, feel like they’ve got skin in the game, and inspire them to continue their financial support.
- Thank them for their support. Do so quickly after receiving a donation. Letting them know how much you appreciate them and how they’ve helped the cause can lead them to continue contributing.
The main takeaway in preventing donor fatigue is relationship building – donors need to know they are understood and appreciated. Fostering the relationship by knowing when to ask for money and for what causes and being clear about your needs and intentions is a vital way to keep that relationship healthy.
What have you done to keep donors engaged in your stewardship efforts? Let us know below.