When donating to charity causes more harm than good (direct mail fundraisers look away now!)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I received this letter through the post today and wanted to share it with you. It makes uncomfortable reading if you are a direct mail fundraiser:
The basic gist is this:
This couple have received 491 mailings from charities in the last year.
Some charities have sent over 20 mailings (without a single gift) in that time.
They have received over 1400 address labels.
The couple haven't donated to any of the charities listed (my own included, although they had previously).
I was appalled at the letter and rang the donors to apologise and promise we would remove them from our list and to ask permission to post their letter here.
I thought they might put the phone straight down on me, but I actually had a really interesting chat with Mr Donor.
What I found was a kind, generous man with a sense of duty, who wanted to make a difference through giving, but who (along with his wife) had come so fed up with the amount of mail they received that he felt they had to make a stand.
I was the first charity rep to get in touch and we had a long chat. I advised him about the mailing preference service, reciprocal mailings and the Fundraising Standards Board.
Amazingly, he continues to support a number of charities and was actually quite apologetic (and felt guilty) for doing this!
Now I am sure every charity on the list will justify the mailings by saying that gifts increase response, the mailings overall make a return on investment etc, etc.
However, when you look at the whole (and I'd guess there are thousands of other donors receiving similar volumes of mail) it is simply unjustifiable and unsustainable in the long term. By continuing to act in this way, good causes risk driving donors to extinction by completely turning them off donating and alienating the very people who are happy to give.