It wasn’t what I’d planned to start with. But for my very first post at Hands-On Fundraising, I wrote about a situation that really upset me.
A dear friend lost his mother. At the funeral home, handy forms suggested memorial gifts to a large, national charity.
Of course, we were happy to make a gift in her memory.
A few weeks later, I received a large envelope from this charity. Inside was a notecard, branded with the charity’s name and logo. And a letter, thanking us for the gift and instructing us to send the card to our friend to let him know we’d made a gift. Because they didn’t have our friend’s address. (An address I sent with the gift.)
Right? Who the heck does that, anyway?
I couldn’t find any way to get in touch with their fundraising folks. There’s no contact information on their website.
I finally found an 800 number, that led to a call center. After leaving a message, I was told they had sent a letter to our friend.
Fast forward to 2017.
I just received a card, addressed by my godmother, but with this charity’s logo on it.
Apparently, this “self-serve” tribute gift is this organization’s way of doing things. And we’ve never gotten a letter from them. (Though we did get a solicitation masked as a thank you letter for a gift we made.)
I’m sure someone found it ingenious – think of the effort and postage we’ll save!
The thought that this dear woman had to sit down and type out a message to me, then address and stamp the envelope – because this huge charity couldn’t be bothered – infuriates me.
And that’s just one of the daily insults too many donors put up with.
How about renewal notices that look like bills?
Should we really be scaring donors into giving?
Or renewal notices from organizations I don’t give to?
Should we be lying to get a gift?
There’s at least one organization that has been sending me solicitations for 20 years.
I’ve never given. I don’t even know who they are. Is it really that hard to pay attention to your lists?
Or robocall solicitations.
It doesn’t matter if you recorded a folksy, old lady voice that chuckles in the appropriate place.
If they record my end, they’ll be exposed to some pretty colorful language.
Repeated phone solicitations after I’ve asked nicely to be removed from that list.
Clean your damned lists, people. And respect preferences. I don’t give on the phone. Period.
Or an all too common practice: no thank you at all
$5 or $5,000,000, you say thank you.
I’m grouchier about this than most.
And I know it. But that’s really the point.
I see what’s happening, and lousy, lazy fundraising offends me.
It hurts all of us doing good work for good organizations.
It causes people to distrust the entire sector. To feel used, not celebrated and needed.
But right now, what really offends me:
Using tacky techniques to take advantage of people like my godmother. Elderly. Sweet. Eager to be helpful.
Reach her heart, absolutely. Show her how much she matters – and what wonderful things she can do by giving.
But treat her – and all donors – with respect.
And don’t ask her to do your job.