Photo credit: Walter Cooper
Photo credit: Walter Cooper

Is Your Organization’s Mediocre Content Contributing to Donor Fatigue?

Don’t leave money on the table! It might be time to admit defeat and … (pardon the swear word) … ask for some h-e-l-p.

What do you do when you’re drowning?

Do you continue to struggle in the water and waves, or do you yell for help?

(Spoiler alert, YOU GET HELP!)

The past year has been just … so … intense.

But it’s also been a year of tremendous growth, of establishing new work/life balancing norms, and a global embrace of pets crashing Zoom meetings (thank goodness for pets!).

In late summer 2020, I received an appeal from my local public radio station. The author said she was writing the note at her kitchen table while her daughter sat nearby working on school work.

It struck me because I was doing the exact same thing – working from home with children nearby (if not on my lap), and trying to make sense of the new normal.

(How often had I dreamed of working from home?) 

But instead of joyfully embracing my new reality, I felt like I was swimming in an ocean of vanilla pudding with no structure, no clarity, and no end in sight.

So what did I do? Who threw me a life raft?

I called my mom.

(For context, my mom is a First Class Badass: a full-time working mom of five with a PhD in medical research. She’s a beast and my hero.)

During a particularly low point a few months into quarantine, I called her with tears streaming down my face saying, “How did you DO it all when we were young? Having babies and balancing work and just…life?”

Because there I was, a grown woman in my 30s with three young children, choking out sobs.

I just couldn’t stay at home with the kids and feed them and make sure they signed into Zoom class on time…

And I definitely couldn’t manage the kids and work AND laundry and clean the house and take the dog for a walk and pay any attention to my exhausted husband who was also working overtime…

I was spent.

So while my whole ’lotta hot messiness was unfolding during our video call, she said something that stopped me in my tracks.

“Manda, I had help!”

My jaw dropped because no WAY! She’s Superwoman and she did it all by herself, I thought.

But then I got to thinking…

  • My babysitter took care of my siblings and me during the day.
  • My grandparents watched me at their house when I was sick.
  • My step-dad brought me to dance class and clarinet lessons.
  • My sister and I played at our cousins’ house almost every weekend.
  • My aunt and uncle filled in when no one else could take me to the doctor.

And the list went on – literally dozens of people from neighbors to friends to family helped take care of me and my siblings, too.

My mom had a TRIBE of people helping her raise us five kids. Yes, she’s a freakin’ powerhouse, but she’s not a one-woman show.

So how does this relate to you?

Well, dear fundraiser, you have a lot on your plate.

You might even feel like you’re drowning in an ocean of vanilla pudding, just like I was.

But like my mom and myself, you are not alone, and you have options.

Questions Are the Answer

So let’s start by asking 3 Key Questions to help get you out of the boring copy rut and back into good graces with your donors.

1. What are YOU really great at? 

Planning events? Face-to-face meetings? Soliciting major gifts?

(Do more of that, please!)

2. What are you not so great at?

Drafting emails? Direct response appeals?

(Offload these tasks.)

3. What could you delegate that would make your work time more efficient?

(Hint: take look at #2.)

As it turns out, my mom outsourced all sorts of tasks, and she was a better worker and an even better parent for it.

Do What You Do Best

You, too, can achieve greater success for your organization by laser-focusing on your cause and maximizing your efforts where you’re most skilled.

Meanwhile, let someone else do the work that you either don’t like or aren’t as confident doing.

I see it all the time – the most genuine and true-hearted fundraisers, brilliant in conversation, struggle to find the right words in writing.

And that’s where someone like me comes in! A person to draft emails and appeals for the entire team to use, translating the message of the organization into a heartfelt, honest, and perfectly-crafted fundraising package.

If it takes a village to raise a child (case in point: myself!), it also takes a village to carry out your organization’s mission and vision.

And while it might feel hard to ask for help – especially because we fundraising Unicorns often feel like we should be able to do it all – I implore you to take my mom’s advice and get some help. 

Fortunately, the process is simple:

  1. Ask for help.
  2. Accept help.
  3. Repeat.

(Note – number 2 is the hardest step.)

Here’s the deal. Your donors aren’t fatigued because you asked them for an extra gift this year. Rather, they are tired because your copy isn’t speaking to their heart.

Listen, there are some useful lessons we can borrow from business, and here’s one of them:

It’s much more cost-effective – and efficient – to let an expert take care of problems in her wheelhouse than a manager trying to tinker for days only to deliver sub-par results.

So as we transition into spring events season, take an honest look at your messaging. Is it falling flat? Then consider bringing in a professional.

An expert copywriter will help you translate your message from the gobble-y gook in your brain to a beautiful masterpiece on the page or screen. 

This is what we do.

With interesting, compelling, and emotional copy, your donors will be thrilled to hear from you and will happily continue to make gifts to support your organization.

So climb up into your life raft, and rest assured that your best defence against donor fatigue might be just a phone call away!