I’ve hesitated to write about it. But I get more annoyed the more I think about the damage these things can do.
I really hate a request disguised as a bill. I know, I know… I see it often enough to guess it must work in some way – but it’s all wrong.
A donor doesn’t owe you anything.
I don’t care how important your organization’s work is, giving is a choice, not an obligation.
We should value that choice. And choice is also a powerful motivator. (Check out this article on Botton Village and the amount of choice they offered their donors.)
Don’t we want donors to affirm their choice to invest through us over and over?
Giving is more than a transaction.
I think you cross a dangerous line when you go there.
Customers buy stuff. And yes, they can be extremely loyal. (Look at the line outside your local Starbucks one morning.)
But donating – giving away your money to help someone you don’t know – that’s even more powerful. You’re not selling toilet paper. You’re selling changed lives!
Fear is not something to build a relationship on.
Fear can be a powerful motivator. Showing donors why their gift is needed is important.
But fear of a bill collector? That’s not nice. And how many times will it work? It might work if you’re looking for disposable donors. But is that what you’re after?
Trust is precious in fundraising.
Framing a request as an invoice is inherently dishonest. Trust is a valuable resource for your organization. Is that how you want to spend it?
You may be running up against regulations.
See this from the US Postal Service.
Title 39, United States Code, Section 3001, makes it illegal to mail a solicitation in the form of an invoice, bill, or statement of account due unless it conspicuously bears a notice on its face that it is, in fact, merely a solicitation.
Why risk it?
Oh, and sweet little old ladies.
That’s who I imagine opening some of these solicitations – and diving into their checkbooks, terrified they’ve done something wrong. And it ticks me off that anyone would want to treat them that way.
We can do better.
There are so many ways to fundraise well, treating donors and potential donors like the generous, caring people they are. If you can’t make a good enough case for your organization without resorting to scare tactics, maybe you need to think on that.
What do you think? What solicitations drive you mad?