I’ve read several online posts about cringe-worthy fundraising practices, and I thought it might be worth sharing a few fundraising efforts that have turned me off from making a second donation. Let me clearly state up front that this is purely anecdotal stuff. I certainly can’t speak for all people in my age or demographic group, nor do I have it on high authority that these practices don’t work for some organizations some of the time. All I know is that they bugged me and inspired me to NOT donate again, and my common sense tells me that I am probably not the only one.

No#1. Silly gimmicks.

A very large organization has sent me several appeals over the years with a nickel glued to the letter, clearly visible through the window envelope. I think it’s a ploy to try to get me to open the letter – I don’t know for sure if it ties into the letter’s contents because it irritates me so much that I don’t read them. All I can think when I see this is how much of any potential donation that I would make to you would you waste on chintzy stuff like this? No, thanks.

#2.  Mailing me wasteful, expensive packets.

Another large organization started mailing me after I sponsored a friend in a 5K run. About once every three months, I get some sort of glossy, multi-page, full color brochure from them, asking me to sign up for a race. Honestly, the only reason I donated to that charity is because my friend asked me to sponsor her. We’re about three years out from the initial donation now, and while I’ve made no further donations to them, they keep doggedly mailing me these expensive-looking packages. Again, this seems a waste of both environmental resources and the money they’ve raised from other donors.

#3 & #4. Emailing me nonstop with insincere and uninformative messages.

I donated to yet another large organization over three years ago in memory of a relative who had passed away. This holiday season, they began emailing me repeatedly. I now get an email from them every couple of days, and each one thanks me for my generous support, which sounds silly since I gave only one gift, three years ago. Each email also mentions all of the great research my donations support, but none of them has yet delved into what the research actually is. The whole thing just comes off as insincere and generic, and both the frequency of the emails and their contents have annoyed me so much that I’ve now unsubscribed.

The thing is, if any one of those organizations had bothered to really try to get to know me, they’d have understood that these methods wouldn’t resonate. I could have easily told them that I find direct mail pieces to be both financially and environmentally wasteful, and that I prefer email communications, and no more than one per month. If Organization 2 had paid any attention to why I first donated to them, they’d have realized that it was because of a friend, and after the first couple of unanswered direct mail pieces, they could have wisely left it to my friend to solicit me again to sponsor her in future. As for Organization 3 – honestly, what I would have responded to from them would have been heartfelt condolences on my loss and an honest conversation with someone on their team who could tell me exactly what type of research they fund and how it helps people. That would have thrilled me, and I’d have been happy to keep supporting their efforts.

I fully understand that everyone is different, and some people would respond well to the tactics these organizations used. But I never would, and they simply didn’t put in the effort to find that out. It makes it seem like I don’t really matter to them – only my money does.

What things do you do to learn about your donors? What do you do to show them that you appreciate and respect them?

img via steveboneham

Melissa Signorelli
Melissa Signorelli is a Co-Founder of Bloomerang.
Melissa Signorelli

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