Donor Acquisition by SPAM

Charities are hearing increasing criticism that their slowness to adopt the Internet for fund raising needlessly increases fund raising costs. This raises the question how exactly would charities go about using the net as a low cost fund raising vehicle. If a low percentage cost is the goal the answer is easy to see. SPAM yes-significant amounts of SPAM. Internet fund raising in its simplest and most cost effective form is direct marketing and direct marketing requires a way to acquire donors who use and are sensitive to the acquisition method that will be used to renew their gifts. If an organization wants donors that will give by mail efficiency dictates they use mail to acquire them. If telemarketing is the chosen method then phone acquisition is used. The concept has been proven time and again. When direct mail became a true fund raising force in the 1970’s many charitable organizations feared an acquisition mail backlash and avoided it, those that adopted it efficiently raised money. By the 1980’s the use of purchased lists and mass mail to acquire donors was common practice. The story repeated itself in the 90’s with telemarketing. In both cases volunteer boards hated the thought but as the results proved the concepts more and more signed on. The story will repeat again on the Net all that is needed is an efficient cost effective Internet acquisition method and it exists its called SPAM. Fund raisers will come up with more sophisticated better sounding names, targeting will get more efficient but in the end large scale internet donor acquisition will owe it start to humble annoying SPAM. It will not be loved but it will work. The current critics that want charities to quickly move fund raising to the Net should be careful about what they wish for because it will come. It will not be popular but it will become a fund raising mainstay.
No profession can ignore this rapidly emerging area. In fund raising imagine sending photos with notes of kids at camp, donor meetings or Relay for Life events in progress. Only imagination, ethics and the law will limit the list of potential uses. Fundraisers will need to stay ahead of their creative staff and volunteers in order to avoid legal and ethical disasters.
On the plus side creative use done will raise millions of dollars, create new mega events and build relationships. The next several years will see bull’s eyes and black eyes. Be careful.

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  1. Mike, I’d like to think you’re wrong, but…
    I would hope that a more creative approach will prevail since people are so ticked-off at SPAM already there are calls for a national do-not-email list like the do-not-call list. Seems like a loser from the get-go.

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