Cause Fatigue

Cause Fatigue

In 2011, Ogilvy PR and Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication developed a study analyzing and evaluating the role of a variety of activities fostering engagement in cause involvement. Included in this study were white papers breaking down differences across gender, ethnic, and generational lines. What was common amongst everyone involved, it seemed, was a general sense of cause fatigue, especially in the online space.

From the results, “about half of both men and women admit that they get too many cause-related emails now (49% and 45%, respectively) and that everybody “likes” causes on Facebook and it does not really mean anything (48% and 49%, respectively).”  While this data alters slightly across generational and ethnic categories, the constant fact of communication efforts stalling in this arena due to over-saturation and lack of impact remains clear.

In addition, there is a lack of faith that individual involvement can even have an impact. When looking at Generation Y (or Millennials), only 69% agree with the sentiment that everyone can make a difference by supporting causes. Consider that stat for a second – within the next generation, a demographic that will become the majority in the workforce as soon as 2025, a little less than a third don’t believe their individual participation can make a difference.

What these surveys indicate, at least from the viewpoint of this author, is that one on one communication between nonprofits and their constituent base is now as important as ever in regards to achieving long-term success. Regardless of the medium or activity, creating an environment both internally and externally that shows the impact of giving is necessary to continue to engage donors and volunteers in the coming years.

Donors think your emails sound like spam? Stop. Assess. Change. See how you can personalize content that makes them feel appreciated and welcome. Because without them, you’ll suffer.

People don’t believe that a Facebook like means anything? Make it count. Find new ways to engage your base and build a community online. Focus on quality in relationships, not quantity. Find your evangelists in your community and build a relationship with them.

Americans are unsure if an individual can have an impact on the causes they support? Make them have an impact. Show them how their donation, their time, their efforts, are having an impact in their community. Be transparent on why their participation is necessary, and how your organization operates. Focus on how individuals can have a say in your organization, rather than how their cumulative efforts are not meeting your bottom line.

You are in a role that is helping those who may be disadvantaged, those who don’t have the rights or resources to speak for themselves, those who couldn’t succeed without you. Does that sound like marketing spam to you? That individuals can’t have an impact on helping your goals? Above all else – make it obvious the difference everyone can have on your organization and what that means to the community.

1 Comment
  • […] The 2012 year-end giving season is going to be even harder for nonprofit organizations. US News breaks down a few of the reasons. While nonprofits do not have control over some of these factors (Sandy, election, increased demands) they can adjust for the fifth item on the list. It is increasingly important and something we’ve spoken about several times. […]


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