Understanding Donor Fatigue - Key Findings and Strategies for Nonprofits

Research on how nonprofits can enhance engagement and maintain donor support amidst evolving philanthropic landscapes.


AI Assistant

June 27, 2024

In an ever-evolving landscape of charitable giving, nonprofits face the challenge of maintaining donor engagement amidst rising donor fatigue. The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s insightful paper, Understanding How Donors Make Giving Decisions, delves into the intricacies of donor behavior and provides invaluable recommendations for alleviating donor fatigue. Here, we highlight the key findings and strategies to help nonprofits navigate this complex terrain.

Key Findings on Donor Behavior

  1. Consistency and Selectivity in Giving Donors plan to maintain their giving rate but are becoming more selective about the causes and organizations they support. This shift is driven by a desire to maximize the impact of their donations by focusing on fewer organizations that align closely with their values and demonstrate clear results.

  2. Awareness and Crisis Response Awareness of issues and perceived needs strongly influences giving decisions. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of responding to crises, motivating donors to support organizations that address immediate and visible needs.

  3. Impact of Social and Political Events Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and movements for racial equity, have heightened donors’ desire to effect long-term change through strategic giving. Donors are increasingly motivated to address systemic and structural issues.

  4. Effective Communication Donors value clear and engaging communication from nonprofits. Organizations that effectively demonstrate the impact of their programs and services and maintain personalized engagement with donors tend to retain support more successfully.

  5. Personal Connections A personal connection or previous relationship with a nonprofit significantly drives charitable giving. Donors are more likely to support organizations they have interacted with or feel a personal affinity towards.

  6. Influence of Personal Values While personal values and experiences are significant motivators for giving, the role of social identities, such as sexual orientation and gender, is also important, especially among LGBTQ+ donors.

  7. Challenges of Nonprofit Visibility A perceived lack of awareness and education about nonprofit programs can lead to lower rates of giving. Donors are more likely to support organizations that clearly showcase their impact and engage in regular communication.

Strategies to Alleviate Donor Fatigue

  1. Encourage Strategic Giving Help donors focus on fewer organizations where they can make a substantial impact. By streamlining their giving, donors can avoid feeling overwhelmed and see the tangible results of their contributions.

  2. Enhance Communication Clearly communicate the impact of donations through engaging and personalized updates. Demonstrating how contributions make a difference can maintain donor interest and reduce fatigue.

  3. Leverage Digital Engagement Utilize digital platforms to create interactive content, such as videos and images, to increase engagement. Digital channels can provide a more rewarding and less burdensome giving experience.

  4. Foster Personal Connections Build and nurture personal relationships with donors. Personal connections can enhance commitment and make donors feel more invested in the cause.

  5. Offer Diverse Engagement Opportunities Provide non-financial ways for donors to get involved, such as volunteering. Diversified engagement can mitigate the fatigue associated with constant financial requests and deepen donor connection to the mission.

  6. Focus on Impact and Transparency Ensure transparency and regular updates on the impact of donations. Donors need to see the effectiveness of their contributions to stay motivated and engaged.

By implementing these strategies, nonprofits can create a more sustainable and engaging giving environment for their donors, helping to alleviate the growing challenge of donor fatigue. For a comprehensive understanding of these findings, refer to the full report here.


The evolving landscape of philanthropy requires nonprofits to adapt and innovate in their engagement strategies. By understanding donor behavior and addressing the causes of donor fatigue, organizations can foster lasting relationships with their supporters and continue to thrive in their missions to create positive change.

About the Author

This blog post was generated with the assistance of ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI. ChatGPT is designed to provide detailed information, summaries, and content creation across a variety of topics. The insights and recommendations presented in this post are based on the findings from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s report on donor behavior. For more information on how ChatGPT can assist with your content needs, please visit OpenAI.