Fundraising: What Does Mark Twain Say?
[Author's note: Yesterday, as I was contemplating if I was going to get out of my warm bed, I justified my slovenly behavior by thinking about my message for this article. After I had it outlined in my head (and etched deeply enough that I would remember it once my feet hit the cold floor), I walked into my office, stopping only to poke the thermostat up a few degrees. Opening my email, there was Today in Fundraising and Marc Pitman's article, "3 Myths of Email Fundraising." A perfect lead-in for what I had conjured up from under the warmth of my comforter — so here's part 2, so to speak.]
Let's face it — "shiny" is appealing. Whether it's the new car we covet or the sparkly bauble that is being advertised (again and again) as the perfect gift for Valentine's Day, "new" catches our eye. And that's so true in fundraising, too!
After all, we've been doing the "same old, same old" since … well, almost forever, it seems. (In realty, the first appeal letter was written in 1843 and the first fund drive took place that same year, according to the history of giving compiled by the National Philanthropic Trust. Despite rumors to the contrary, this old dog did not write that first appeal.)
A few weeks ago, I praised direct mail. Lest I left some of you thinking I was stuck in the past, let me assure you that I am totally "in love" with new methods of fundraising. The more tools we have that work, the better it is for our causes. And, having a low threshold of boredom, I really like variety and being able to work on multiple kinds of projects.
But what I don't like is fundraising programs that don't raise funds and the attitude that it has to be "either/or" when it comes to things like email and direct mail or social media and newsletters. I much prefer "both/and." So in that spirit, I once again turn to my old friend, Mark Twain, for advice on achieving the best results in our fundraising efforts.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.