A Frank Opening

I received a mailing from a non-profit organization that counts me among their donors. The letter opened as follows:

“I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your past support. I’m not sure if you are aware, but your last donation was in May 2009 for $20. There is a reason I am sharing this with you.

“During these continued hard economic times, we want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to communicate to you, and all the generous people who have supported our work for almost 30 years, just how much good is being accomplished with your help …”

I admit that I felt a tinge of guilt when I read that opening. Whether I make a gift or not, the fact that the mailing made me feel something is a good thing. These are hard times. Non-profits must go to greater lengths to try to secure gifts, even if it means alerting me to my lapsed giving history, citing month, year and amount.

The opening message focuses on a negative, and many people in marketing and fundraising avoid negativity at every turn. But, at this point, what did the organization have to lose? I haven’t made a donation in more than two years. It’s as if they’re throwing a little cold water in my face.

Will I give?

Probably not. We’ve made our decisions regarding this year’s charitable causes and are unlikely to change our plan. But that doesn’t mean the appeal was poorly conceived. It got my attention. It was personal. So it succeeded on some level.  Maybe it pried loose gifts from other lapsed donors.


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