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Navigating Donation Asks and Rage Giving in Times of Crisis

Given the state of the world right now: the January 6th hearings, the supreme court overturning Roe vs Wade, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and supply chain issues, it’s important to make sure your asks meet people where they are. Simply put, read the room.

The language we use right now as fundraisers matters, so let’s have a conversation about how to thank and speak to donors inspired to give out of a sense of anger and helplessness versus donors who are frustrated and tired of being asked to open their wallets with every horrible new headline. I know these are not fun words I’m saying and you’re like “Where’s Fun Kelly?” To quote the warrior poet Taylor Swift, Fun Kelly can’t come to the phone right now.

I am a strong supporter of being frank and factual with people when the situation calls for it and this is one of those situations. Be honest with your donors but avoid language that furthers their duress. We’re all feeling like we want to chuck our phones into outer space every time there’s breaking news, and as this video shows, people are struggling with being asked for donations and feel disenfranchised and angry.

The situation can be (and right now is) negative, but how we move forward with it matters, so let’s break down these new types of donors and how we should work with them in the future.

Rage Givers: Rage givers are usually one-time or first-time donors, and you’re going to see high quantities of $5, $10, and $15 donations from rage givers. This is a great view of how charitable giving is impacted by times of crisis and how to be prepared as money comes in during periods of unrest. You’re probably not asking for these donations. When things settle down, don’t be concerned when this specific batch of donors doesn’t donate during your next fundraising event. The catalyst that inspired their giving was a specific political or social event, so if your numbers look different next year, remember to keep track of periods of crisis. If you can separate out the data in your mailing list and want to reach out to these donors in the future, we don’t want them to feel the way they felt when they first donated (livid, scared, frustrated), we want them to know your organization is putting their donation to work. This is a great opportunity for donor education in the future, while also remembering that they may not donate again and that’s okay.

Disenfranchised Donors: These donors may have started out as rage givers or maybe they’ve always donated to your great organization, but in the last month they’ve been bombarded nonstop with political campaign donation requests, and so many texts from other orgs that they might be frustrated with or have lost faith in. This is the time to show, not tell, your donor base that you’re in this together and you hear them. Their donation is being put to work. Will these donors donate again? I actually can’t find a lot of data about that so if anyone has some, jump in the comments! But what my years of fundraising tell me is that people who have been steady donors will probably continue donating.

Having a hard time finding the words right now because your brain is a hornet’s nest of rage? Here are a few emails ask/thank you templates that might help.


Gentle Language Template: To send in 6/8 weeks, feel free to personalize

Email Subject Line: You supported us when we needed you, let us show you how you helped.


Thank you for supporting (organization). Your recent donation to the LGBTQIA+ youth of Portland has helped us provide housing, crisis counseling, and medical and sexual health counseling to LGBTQIA+ teens who are among those most vulnerable in the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade. Thank you for standing with us.

Your donation along with others allowed us to raise X and we’re not stopping there. Here are some things we’re planning in the coming months to continue to ensure the continued safety and agency, of our community:

  • List 3 positive things your org is planning in the upcoming months

Thank you for your donation. If you’d like to donate again in the future or encourage others to donate, here is a sharable link to our donation page.

With gratitude,


The Ask in Hard Times Language Template:

Email Subject Line: We’re in this fight for the long haul, please join us.


We want to take a moment and check on our donors. We know things are heavy right now and hope you’re as okay as you can be.

{Organization} is still in the fight for equality and the right to privacy and we need support now more than ever. Your donations will help us:

  • List 3 proactive things your organization does that will create impact.

We’re committed to seeing this through. In the past {X} years our organization has done

  • List your wins, this is your time to brag and brag hard

We fought then and we fought now. We are not done yet.


We're all feeling a lot right now, so let's meet our donors where they are.

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