Nonprofit Periscope

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Posts Tagged ‘small donors

Sometimes it does hurt to ask.

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As a development professional, I think of my home mailbox as my little fundraising lab. Every week I get a flurry of donation appeals from groups I’ve given to in the past, as well as some I haven’t, and on the elevator ride up I run a quick triage:

  • Maybe
  • No
  • Why did I even get this?

For months I’ve been getting appeals from a global nonprofit whose work I respect. They focus on a single condition, and their results are both visible and inspiring.  My little cousin was born with this condition, so I have a personal connection to the nonprofit. I’m an ideal annual-level donor for them. And they seem to know it, because they mail me an appeal EVERY MONTH.

As fundraisers like to say, the worst that can happen is that a prospect says no. But that’s not really the worst that can happen.

We’ve all gone through this: you get a donation appeal, you send back $25, you mentally check it off your to-do list…and then they ask you again. Often, you get the next appeal–from the same group, remember–before you get an acknowledgment for your first gift. And when that second one comes, you think, “Wait, didn’t I just give these guys money? What do they want now?”

Which is exactly what I thought every month as that aforementioned group’s logo peeked up at me from my stack of mail. Finally, my escape came: an appeal that said “Give now and we’ll never ask you for another dollar!” Yes sir, I thought. That’s exactly what I want. They got another $20 and I got a sigh of relief. Freedom! No more guilt at recycling the envelope, unopened, with the disfigured child on the front, a single tear sliding down his face.

Until the next month. You know what happened. Cue disfigured-weeping-child envelope with enclosed fundraising appeal. Cue disbelief, perhaps naive. This time, I didn’t just say no. I felt officially alienated.

There are many reasons this organization could have sent me an appeal immediately after I literally checked the box that said “Please remove me from mailing list.” Among them:

  • Their administrative staff hasn’t entered my mailing preference in the donor management database yet
  • I’m on more than one of their mailing lists
  • They always ask please-remove-me donors one more time
  • They figure it can’t hurt to ask again

Of those reasons, only the last two are reprehensible, even disrespectful. No, my hand didn’t skid across the please-remove-me box by accident. Yes, I thought you meant it when you said you’d never ask me again. I feel like whoever’s on the other end of that trifold two-color mailer is definitely not listening to me.

As a fundraiser, I understand the need to ask. But as a donor, I’m baffled by the lack of comprehension that I don’t want mail from this group anymore. My fellow fundraisers–and I ask this purely out of curiosity–what possible reasons do you have NOT to listen to your donors?

Whether you’re a donor, a fundraiser, or both, you probably have experience with this. Do you agree that sometimes it does hurt to ask?


Written by eclawson

November 11, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Double the impact, double the warm fuzzies

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Christmas aside, I made December a month of gifts for a different reason: every day I’ve been giving a gift, whether it be a gesture, a donation, or a pint of blood.  And in  the course of these gifts, I’ve found that I love being a donor almost as much as I love being a fundraiser.  And I’ve stumbled across several don’t-miss-it gems of the donation world: matching gifts.

For anyone not in the know yet, these fundraising campaigns involve a donor (often anonymous) who offers to match every dollar raised, sometimes even two-for-one, during a specific time period.  As a donor, especially a small one like me (true in both stature and bank account), matching gifts are a chance to give twice the capacity without twice the hole in our wallets.

With that in mind, check out three nonprofits currently running matching gift campaigns ending this week (links will open donation page in new window):

1. Muttville (San Francisco, CA) finds homes for elderly dogs that otherwise would meet bad ends in shelters.  In honor of their 500th adoption, an anonymous donor is matching all gifts through December 31.

2. CARE empowers the world’s poorest women to lift their families out of poverty.  A group of donors will match every contribution dollar for dollar until December 31.

3. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center received a pledge from the parents of founder Jeff Bezos to match, two for one, every donation made for immunotherapy research by December 31.  (Full disclosure: the Center is my employer but I am not involved in this campaign.)

Do you know of another matching gift campaign in the final countdown this week?  Post the link in a comment so others can start 2010 with some doubly-good karma.

Written by eclawson

December 27, 2009 at 7:02 PM