Fund Raising and 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.

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  1. I hope your vision doesn’t come to pass, Mike.

    If charities–including us–just indiscriminately send non-targeted solicitations out it probably will lead to backlash. But there is SPAM and then there’s SPAM. The stuff that infuriates people is the stuff that just comes unsolicited and then provides no way to stop further mail. Even when you click the link at the bottom of the ad asking to be taken off the list, some SPAMers just switch you to a different ad.

    But if people have the chance to opt-in because we get their name from some event or inquiry and then we give them a dependable chance to opt-out with each mailing, I think the mail encounter is minimally annoying. In fact, if you send them a little note confirming they have been removed you might even win points. Responsible marketers take those steps because they know people respond positively.

    Internet solicitation needs to be part of some meaningful interaction with the constituent—before, during and after preferably. If it’s just indiscriminate, it will lead to a backlash for sure.

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