Is donor fatigue a real issue for Australian NFPs?


Posted on

March 27, 2018

The Giving Australia Report (2016) revealed that average donation per person increased by 38%, but the actual number of individuals giving to charities had decreased by about 7% over the decade.

Furthermore, according to the Pareto Fundraising Benchmarking Report (2017), the growth in Australia for fundraising income has tapered off and the amount of new donors giving to charities has decreased for the first time in the last two decades.

It is likely that this is due to the increased competition between various non-profit organisations that compete for limited dollars from donors.

In addition to this, the difficulty of telemarketing is rising, with increased public dislike for telemarketers and less people using phone lines, opting to use mobile phones instead.

These changes are likely to contribute to increasing costs of “cold” fundraising and make it difficult for NFPs to feasibly pursue some of these channels.

The Unfair Double Standard For Charities

It is difficult for a non-profit organisation to obtain donations without employing some degree of marketing such as telemarketing, direct mail, advertisements and so forth.

Yet society views these marketing efforts with scorn – as “overheads,” and do not like to see their donation dollars invested in advertising.

However, all organisations must use and invest in marketing in order to grow their endeavours – in both advertising budget and hiring/training of skilled staff.

Why would it be any different for a non-profit organisation?

Unfortunately, public scrutiny of NFP marketing efforts dampens these attempts to spread their message and are ultimately held to an unfair double standard as this Ted Talk by Dan Pallotta explains clearly.

Public Perception Must Be Changed

For the greatest amount of good to be spread, public perception must change so that advertising is no longer viewed as an overhead expense, but an investment into furthering a non-profit organisation’s cause.

A movement must be started to clear up this public misconception and NFPs will have to make further efforts to educate their donors on the necessity of marketing and related administration costs – not as an expense, but as an investment.

To justify this, non-profits will also need to ensure that their marketing dollars are well spent and returns measured accurately, so these can be reported to donors confidently and transparently.

Opportunities Still Exist – Increased donations and the Digital Landscape

We would like to point out that, while the number of individuals giving to charities appears to have decreased by 7%, in contrast the average donation per person has increased 38%.

This represents an opportunity to focus more efforts on reconnecting with current and past donors and raising efforts to win old donors back.

This will require some investment into marketing channels such as direct mail, telemarketing and online marketing to communicate with these donors.

The Giving Australia (2016) Report reveals that people are more likely to donate more per donation, so NFPs should align their messages to ask for larger contributions.

For example, over $1 Billion USD was donated to charities through Paypal over the 2017 Christmas Holidays.

Furthermore, Australians are preferring to donate online through new mediums such as mobile phones. Therefore, NFPs should consider these new avenues for opportunities and ensure their websites are mobile responsive and quick to load, even on mobile internet connections.

In addition to this, the digital landscape has reduced the cost of communication to nearly nothing – email, Youtube and social media like Facebook / Twitter to name a few.

These “free” channels should be used efficiently and effectively by NFPs in order to make the most out of these brand new opportunities.



If you’d like to learn how you can connect with donors online, develop a deeper relationship and encourage them to contribute to your cause, we have written a series of posts that may interest you:

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