Editor's Note: Fundraiser’s Nightmare
I've had a craptastic couple of weeks, thank you very much. So imagine my delight when I opened my mailbox to find a small envelope addressed to me in actual handwriting. How sweet that one of my dear friends would send me a pick-me-up and, better yet, take the time to do it the old-fashioned way! I was on top of the world.
But my euphoria melted away as I opened the envelope and realized that what I had received was not a heartfelt "thinking of you" note from a friend. Rather, it was a fundraising solicitation from an organization that I like and had donated to previously. Call me petty, but the disappointment was enough to make me toss the direct-mail piece into the recycling bin without reading a single word.
I know there are stats to support the fact that prospects respond well to these uber-personalized appeals. But I, personally, do not. Instead of making me feel "special," they just make me feel cheated. Because as much as I might like an organization and support the work it does, nothing it sends me could make me as happy as a handwritten card or letter from a friend.
That got me thinking about myself as a donor — back before I started working at FundRaising Success, before I had daily encounters with so many incredible organizations and became aware of the myriad devices nonprofits use to raise funds. I was a fundraiser's nightmare. I never read direct-mail pieces. If an envelope was compelling enough, I might have gone online to research the charity and its mission — but I still tossed out the unopened mailer. I gave often — when I had the time and some money in the bank. But if the phone rang or the toast popped before I hit the Donate button, I might never have gotten back to actually making the donation.