Donor Fatigue, Part 2

As a follow-up to my recent blog on donor fatigue, I want to share one of the email responses I received from a philanthropic practitioner. This practitioner agreed to share the response, and we anonymized the referenced organization to: regional grantmaker associations.

"I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading your “Donor Fatigue” blog post. Through my consulting work, I spend a significant portion of my time working with members of a regional grantmaker association, which has me talking with wealthy families, donors, and foundations on a regular basis. The issues that you identify in your blog are very real for these individuals and organizations, especially as they find that many fundraising solicitations are shockingly aggressive.

Even as I work with foundations to help them develop approaches that make funding applications and processes simpler for applicants to use, the funders still face an onslaught of unsolicited approaches from all sides and many applications that are obviously not a fit for the funding criteria. With a sales approach to fundraising that is not uncommon in the field, fundraisers and grantwriters can “see” a fit, even when one is not necessarily present.

Altogether, it can make funders leery of any approach, even the most respectful and appropriate of fits for their funding goals.

On a related note, I’ve also noticed that many of these same funders are oftentimes on the lookout for great organizations to support similarly-minded funding partners. With the concept of donor fatigue also comes an exceptional (but understandable) level of caution in meeting and networking with others in their field or community.

With our regional grantmaker association, we regularly have to guard our members from organizations that want the chance to meet funders or contact them. Even in partnership situations (with our state-wide nonprofit association, for example), funders might be able to use these opportunities to discover potential applicants or projects.

However, their experience of being solicited in these situations (even with explicit “no solicitation” rules) leads them to continually request that they are shielded from these otherwise valuable networking and learning opportunities.

It’s definitely a tricky situation to navigate, especially as a neutral party."

I would love to hear from others regarding their reflections upon, and strategies to be proactive about, donor fatigue. Let's continue this conversation...

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI  I  psherzog@iupui.edu

©2021 Patricia Snell Herzog, Indianapolis, IN, USA All rights reserved.

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