Easier Said Than Done: Fundraising Urban Legends Debunked
You know about urban legends — those wacko rumors that spread so quickly because they're uniquely compelling. Did you know we have them in the fundraising community?
Recent research done by the Folklore Department at Easier Said Than Done University has uncovered some fascinating urban legends. We've not only gathered them, but we've investigated them to find their essential truth or error.
Next time you hear one of these legends repeated by a wide-eyed fundraising colleague, you can nod sagely — secure that you know the truth (or lack thereof) behind the legend.
Direct mail: dead or alive?
A widely circulated document tells this sordid tale: Late in 2008, direct mail — suffering from a deadly combination of rising costs, falling response rates and insufficient retention — faked its own death by setting up a gruesome situation involving a vat of fugitive glue, a letter press and 600,000 No. 10 window envelopes. Direct mail then stole across the border into Canada, where it's eking out a living selling hearing aids.
Status: Partly true
Direct mail's death was, indeed, faked. The perpetrator of the hoax, however, was not direct mail itself but a group of lazy and incompetent fundraisers who have not been able to succeed at raising funds through the mail. Their purpose has been to cover their failure with the elaborate ruse that direct mail is "dead." In fact, direct mail is only marginally less healthy than it's ever been. It has many good and fruitful years ahead of it.
The curse of the ad agency
There's a rumor that if you hire a major ad agency to do work for your nonprofit, you will win awards and generate a lot of attention on blogs and Twitter. In many cases, it will do this work at no charge. Nevertheless, you will pay dearly. In the end, the agency will destroy your reputation, scare away your donors and bankrupt your organization.