Yesterday, we talked the pros and cons of online fundraising – that the low barrier to entry (any charity can set up PayPal, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for free in a minutes), and the growing number of people using social media, has led to an explosion in online giving campaigns. This is a great opportunity for non-profits and churches. But it also means as individuals, we’re being hit with an ever increasing number of donation requests.
If you genuinely care about people, reading the donation requests, considering them, making a decision as to whether to give or not, and then accepting that decision can be stressful and lead to “donor fatigue.”
How can we deal with all these donation requests in a way that reduces stress and donation fatigue?
I hardly consider myself an expert on this, so I’d like to hear your ideas, but here are 6 suggestions that come to mind:
1) Create a giving plan. You can’t give to every cause, so it’s important to set priorities. Much of the stress of donor fatigue can be eliminated by putting together a plan – a set of principles – that will help to guide your decision making. Saying “No” to some charities that are less important to you is what makes it possible for you to say “Yes” to those that are most important. Think about it. Pray about it. If you’re married, put together the plan with your spouse.
2) Budget for donation requests. Budget a certain amount of money each month to go towards unexpected donation requests. Until that money has been spent each month, you say yes. When that money is gone, you say no. This gives you the opportunity to help, but puts a predefined cap on it. Even budgeting as little as $10 or $20 a month can enable you to say yes and help in small ways.
3) Determine your default donation amount. In addition to deciding if you’re going to give to each cause or charity that asks, you also have to decide how much to give. For this it might be helpful to set a default donation amount. You can deviate from the default if there’s a good reason or you feel led to, but if not, that’s one less decision you have to hem and haw over.
4) Give personal connections priority. You want to see the people and organizations you’re personally connected with succeed, so give them priority when making giving decisions. I’d rather say no to a kid I’ve never seen before who knocks on my door and asks me to buy something to support his team, so I can say yes to the kids I actually know.
5) Be a generous, regular giver. A lot of the stress people feel from donation requests is really guilt from being selfish with their money. If you spend all your money on yourself and your family, then every request to give is a reminder that you’re not doing much to help others. God tells us in the bible that we are to support our local church and care for widows, orphans, and the poor. And if you’re doing that on a basis, then it’s a lot easier to say no to one-time donation requests.
6) Stop worrying about what other people think. A lot of people have a hard time saying “no” because they’re afraid of what other people will think of them. They feel like they have to justify every no. On the other hand, if you’re really generous, some people in your life may freak out about how much you give away. Remember, what you do with your money is between you and God. If you have God-honoring, well-prayed-over giving plan, be confident in that and ignore everyone else.
Those are my thoughts. How about you? Have you ever felt “donation fatigue?” How do you deal with it? What are your suggestions for how to decide which people and charities to give to?