Ellie Bird27/07/20

3 min read

Avoid the Pitfalls of Compassion Fatigue

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 If you’re busy planning your next fundraising campaign or preparing your strategy for the upcoming season you should be mindful of Compassion Fatigue. Let me explain why.

Much has been written about how the Charity sector has suffered in the global pandemic. Covid-19’s impact on the industry has undoubtedly been devastating, with so many charities unable to run critical services for their beneficiaries. Whilst it is still much too early to measure the full impact on the sector, it appears inevitable that the sector will be smaller in the ‘new world’.

As the global lockdown gradually eases, we will continue to enter and exit seasons in which charities would traditionally benefit from annual events and holidays. Investing substantial resources in their fundraising campaigns. 

Although this year will be different due to the economic landscape, we believe it could be far more positive than some might imagine.  

The new era of charitable giving is upon us and with an observable rise in prosocial behaviour, the public’s desire to rebuild our culture has resulted in an increase in sharing, donating, partnerships and likely, volunteering. 

Charities will, in our belief, provide a pivotal role in facilitating our social and cultural transformation into the ‘new world’.

You may well be familiar with some of our previous thought experiments around the topic of the Attention Economy. Our digital culture and relationship with the internet means we are experiencing an abundance of information. So much so, the average person visually processes more than 5,000 pieces of content each day. This, is exhausting. 

We believe this has a direct impact on our ability to digest content and audiences are fatigued from the volume of content. In the context of charities, audiences, both new and existing, have a finite amount of available attention. The challenge? Cutting through the noise to engage them. 

In the current climate, we believe content fatigue has evolved. Earlier this year, charities across the UK pivoted their strategies to launch emergency appeals and drive vital funds to cover operating costs. We observe that audiences’ ability to comprehend the sheer volume of causes in need, is having a direct impact on compassion. Compassion is a necessary precursor to prosocial behaviour and theory suggests donors could be becoming emotionally desensitised to repeatedly being asked for support. 

With prosocial behaviour on the rise, compassion fatigue should not be overlooked in the donor journey. The way in which charities ‘ask’ for donor engagement will determine whether they capitalise on the shift in culture. 

Recently we’ve been working with a number of organisations, developing long term donor acquisition campaigns for the new world. Our research suggests that whilst donors’ desire to help is prominent, they also have a heightened awareness of their ‘altruistic wallet’ - there is only so much to go around.

Successful strategies will move away from the traditional ‘ask’, to nurturing donors with multiple carefully crafted messages. We believe shifting the focus to mid-term relationship development will tap into the rise of prosocial behaviour and help reduce the impact of compassion fatigue.  

We’re developing a number of digital products that enable charities to attract and improve donor journeys in the ‘new world’. If you’d like to find out more, drop us a note in the comments section and we’ll be in touch.

We’re in this together. #WeAreHumanity