Donor Fatigue and The Comparison Trap

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

John 21:21-23

The speaker asked in a training session, “When was the last time a donor said, ‘I can’t donate because I’m tired of giving? Oftentimes, when we hear of donor fatigue, it’s other nonprofits providing an excuse. To avoid joining this groupthink, don’t compare your donors to other nonprofit donors…get to know them for who they are and invest in them in the way they would appreciate.”

It was a shift for me to think about donor fatigue and the comparison trap. Donor fatigue is defined by the Oxford Languages as “a lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting from the frequency of such appeals.” As one always learning more about the nonprofit sector, I devour a few blogs and articles a week, listen to podcasts and webinars, and talk to other nonprofit leaders. And yet, I know that I do those things more than the simple notion of talking to the people in the nonprofit I serve—our clients, staff, and donors. Have I assumed that our donors are fatigued about hearing successes or engaging with our stories of need, or have I compared donors who love my nonprofit to the donors of nonprofits around me?

Jesus knew about the comparison trap. He knew that people would base their experience of Himself on what others had experienced—not what was going on between that person and Himself. After He rose, never to die again, Jesus gave Peter a sneak peek into the future. And those around Peter and Jesus immediately started guessing and comparing. Jesus squashed that thinking quickly by saying, “What I’ve shared is between the two of us, and there’s no need to compare your situation to that of Peter. Keep focused on what I’ve asked you to do, and don’t worry about those around you.

Can you think of a recent situation where you fell into the comparison trap? Was it about donor fatigue or a program success or even the next steps you should take? Listen to Jesus. What is He saying?

If you have remembered a situation where you were caught in a comparison trap and escaped, like this post and then share your encouragement on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

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Photo by Kseniia Samoylenko on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at


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