Are We Tapped Out as Donors?

As some of you know, I’m a fan of NBC’s New Amsterdam TV Show. I love the characters. I love the stories. What I find most amazing is the way the showrunners incorporate real-life healthcare challenges into the plot.

They have covered everything from the opioid crisis to denied claims from insurance companies. This season the show has been dealing with COVID-19 related issues including burnout, forgoing care because of COVID fears, how it’s okay to be afraid (see this incredible clip) and even anti-Asian hate (see this awesome clip).

In the episode “Blood, Sweat & Tears”, the fictitious New Amsterdam hospital is facing a lack of blood in the blood bank. Donors have not been coming in to the hospital to donate because of COVID-19 concerns. In a scene near the end of the episode, an exasperated Max Goodwin (New Amsterdam’s Medical Director played superbly by Ryan Eggold) asks a bystander why they haven’t donated blood.

The bystander responds with a rant about how she is tapped out as a donor. How she has cooked hundreds of meals to those in need. How she has been helping neighbors. How she has had to homeschool 3 kids while trying to hang onto her job. “The only thing I haven’t given is my blood and I’d like to keep that for myself,” she says.

That got me thinking…are we tapped out as donors?

The HCLDR community is full of caring people and I doubt that we have reached our limits when it comes to helping others in need. Proof of that is the recent Go-Fund-Me drive to help Casey Quinlan which has so far raised $22,000 USD – far exceeding the goal of $3,000. There are dozens of familiar #hcldr names on the donor list and I’m going to bet many more chose to be Anonymous.

But the New Amsterdam episode got me thinking that maybe we are an exception. That maybe the general public is truly tapped as donors.

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives for over a year. We’ve been asked to make sacrifices in order to keep others safe. We’ve donated time and energy to help neighbors. We’ve donated hard earned money to causes that were in desperate need of support. But as we go into another summer of COVID, have people reached their limits?

The answer seems to be no, but with a caveat.

The Non Profit Times reported that most fundraisers were “bullish about having reached their goals for the year [2020]”. However, Mike Geiger, CEO and President of the Association for Fundraising Professionals is quoted in the report as saying “I think this may be a case of fundraisers having low expectations for the end of 2020 and seeing those expectations met or exceeded.”

Are these lowered expectations a case of “pricing in” donor burnout? Is it a case where we, as the public, have moved away from donating to large non-profits or charities in favor of smaller causes with local impact?

I’m curious to find out.

Join the next #hcldr tweetchat on Tuesday April 20th at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here), when we will be discussing the following topics:

  • T1 Do you believe that donors are tapped out or burned out right now? Why or why not?
  • T2 Have you changed how you donate your dollars, time and energy because of COVID-19?
  • T3 What ideas do you have or examples you have seen recently that have been effective at getting donations?
  • T4 Share some love. What charities, non-profit organizations or causes do you want to highlight?


Levy, Richard H. “Making Fundraising Goals Rates A 6.9 Out Of 10”, The Non Profit Times, 8 February 2021,, accessed 17 April 2021

“Generosity During Crisis: Why retreating from engaging supporters during this time is a mistake”, Giving Tuesday,, accessed 17 April 2021

“Don’t Stop Fundraising Because You Worry Donors are Tapped Out”, bloomerang,, accessed 17 April 2021

Dobuzinskis, Caroline. “2020: What a challenging year taught us about generosity”, Charitable Impact, 28 January 2021,, accessed 17 April 2021

Speer, Shellie. “Quick Shot: Is Donor Burnout Real?”, Brewer Direct,, accessed 17 April 2021

Image Credit

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

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