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Local organizations suffer from ‘donor fatigue’ experts say it’s normal

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:07 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Giving USA reports that charitable giving in 2020 reached a record $471 billion dollars. The term “donor fatigue” has been coined to describe the feeling one gets when being overwhelmed by donation requests.

The Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids says they are seeing the impacts of donor fatigue.

“We’ve already seen as of the end of November, though, definitely a massive decrease in the amount of donations from last year,” said Captain Shawn Debaar, Salvation Army Corps Officer.

During the pandemic, and more locally the August 2020 derecho, people donated a lot of money to organizations in need.

“We know that individuals in the Linn County area went above and beyond and were extremely gracious,” said Debaar.

Debaar says they are also seeing the increased need for donations due to the higher operating cost for the organization. For example, the cost of the hams the organization donates at Christmas has more than doubled.

Jenifer Vick, a professor of philanthropy from the University of Iowa, says this could be contributing to some of that fatigue this year.

“We are people who feel compassionate for our neighbors, we want to contribute and to help and to make our communities better places to live. And so I think that many of us just are motivated by the need,” said Vick.

Vick says to feel less overwhelmed it’s important to organize where you will be donating and set boundaries. She says it’s also important to remember that donations don’t always have to be monetary.

“Philanthropy and giving looks a lot of different ways. So that might be that, you know, that as the weather changes, and you have an elderly neighbor, and you are committed to making sure that they have, you know, a plowed driveway and sidewalks and that they’re safe, that’s philanthropy that it doesn’t always have to be, you know, a monetary financial gift,” said Vick.

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