Compassion Fatigue

Times are tough and everyone has their hand out. If you donated to one political campaign, count on hearing from their pals. Give money to a charity and get hit up for more, frequently. Then there’s Facebook birthday causes, pledge drives and GoFundMe pitches.

It’s no wonder we suffer from compassion fatigue.

It seems that only the Girl Scouts get it right. They rake in millions. But at least we get overpriced cookies for our donation. As for other big charities, what happens after the money leaves my bank account? Am I helping sick kids or paying off some exec’s mortgage?

A few years ago, I consulted the United Way, America’s largest charity. I admitted that I had no idea what’s actually done with donations.

So I asked.

Here’s my take. Turns out the United Way supports veterans, women’s shelters, the homeless and hundreds of local causes in each city. Who knew?

So, I suggested, “if you’re funding all of these local organizations, we should let donors know.”

Genius, right?

The room went silent. Apparently, they hadn’t considered celebrating how the United Way helps people. They just assumed we knew.

But now the competition for fundraising dollars is fierce. So, the cause better have a clear a purpose and be something we can believe in. Or they’re left to fight for scraps.

I proposed a campaign called Give Where You Live. Local people shared personal stories of how United Way donations helped them. Their video clips were authentic and portrayed the charity as heroes, with no hard sell.

When United Way launched their giving campaign, the Give Where You Live donation website crashed. It was overwhelmed with more traffic than it could handle.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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