Giving Fatigue: How to Build Successful Programs After Disaster Strikes
When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, we were ready. We launched disaster relief pages connected to charities well positioned to aid victims and jumpstart the recovery. And, true to form, the Global Good Network delivered. Match caps were hit so quickly that many clients extended them, then promptly hit those match caps days later.
The Global Good Network raised $8,422,244 for Hurricane Harvey.
We were every bit as ready, more so, really, when Hurricane Irma hit Florida in the following weeks.
And when the floods overtook India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
And when an earthquake devastated Mexico City.
And when Hurricane Maria leveled Puerto Rico.
And when wildfires burned up and down the West coast.
As the seemingly endless string of disasters piled up, things started to feel different. Some programs flourished, but few reached the levels experienced in the wake of Harvey.
While discussing potential next steps in the disaster relief effort, one client summed it up perfectly.
“We’re experiencing giving fatigue,” he said. “Employees have been so generous – they’ve given and given and given – but they’ve hit their limits.”
Giving Fatigue has been a topic in several of my conversations with people throughout the CSR community, as well as nonprofit partners. Most of us are trying to figure out how to finish the year strong, and avoid similar issues in the future.
Giving Fatigue has set in…now what?
Setting goals for holiday/year-end programs and campaigns based on previous results is great, but when circumstances change and the degree of difficulty trends upward, a number is just a number.
Passion drives action. If you want to get people to push through the giving fatigue of the past few months and invest in your programs, develop goals around the impact your employees crave.
YourCause has a “Share Your Story” function that our clients use to allow their employees to share stories and images about the causes and organizations they are closely involved with. This goes a long way to inspire fellow employees into action.
In addition, reporting is more than a way to collect data – it’s a story gold mine. Find employees whose support for particular organizations jump off the page and reach out to those employees to learn about their connection to the organization. Their stories often inspire co-workers to join in the cause, and that’s how organic campaigns are formed.
How can you avoid Giving Fatigue in the future?
As the old saying goes, “you don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.” That is a mentality we discuss when it comes to disaster relief. YourCause prides itself on our ability to respond quickly and have configurable solutions for your unique case. There will always be a place for fast action and quick response, but ultimately, impulse philanthropy leads to giving fatigue.
At YourCause, we offer year-round disaster pages that allow companies to develop long-term partnerships with disaster relief nonprofits, and provide ongoing support to help them stay ready for when disaster strikes.
We also recommend encouraging employees to set up recurring payroll donations. This makes it easy for employees to plan their giving throughout the year, rather than limiting them to one-time donations. Planning $100 worth of donations to Saving the Children over the course of the year feels very different than making a one-time donation of $100 after disaster strikes, and changes a donor’s mentality in the months that follow.
Balancing Impact and Impulse
In his typically profound nature, the great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
Life has a way of throwing a wrench in even the best thought out plans. Sometimes giving fatigue is the cost of stepping up to help those in need, as the Global Good Network has throughout the back half of 2017. Life is full of surprises that often require action even if it deviates from a plan.
The key to limiting giving fatigue, and successfully navigating it when circumstances change, is setting goals that align with the causes and organizations your employees care most about. There will be more disasters, so it’s also helpful to create a company-wide plan for responding when disaster strikes.