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Monday, December 7, 2009

How Many Requests for Funding Did You Get This Past Year?

One of the donors that uses our site conducted an experiment this past year. From 12/1/08 - 11/30/09, he keep a record of each time a charity sent him an appeal for support. As he says, "results tabulated below show how many mailings we received during the period. The numbers are, eh, impressive.It is incredible how much mail some charities send."

American Diabetes 24
World Vision 18
Special Olympics 14
Smile Train 13
ALS Assn 13
American Fd for the Blind 13
American Lung 11
American Red Cross 11
American Cancer Society 11
ASH 10
Planned Parenthood 10
Nat’l Park Conv. Svc. 9

We know many donors share his frustration with the number of appeals they receive from charities. How about you? How many times a year should a given charity contact you seeking support?

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David Griswold said...

Personally, I think online tools (like Charity Navigator) make it much easier to sort through and find the charity you want to support, and evens the playing field between larger and smaller organizations.

If these organizations stopped sending direct mail (a form of advertising I know for me is obsolete), they'd be a) saving trees, and b) have more money to spend on improving how they utilize centralized, online systems. If the trick is reminding people to give, I think more creative and interactive means are more effective - whether its sponsoring events, online videos, tweeting, etc.

Larry Short said...

I would encourage people who feel (like I do) that we get too many snailmail appeals, to contact the organizations sending the appeals and communicate that we only want to receive appeals from them online. Not all organizations yet offer this level of control, of course. But asking for it will accelerate the pace at which they will conduct the technical development work to enable this. And that work (which is inevitable) will ultimate save lots and lots of money, and trees.

Unknown said...

I haven't had the patience to collect and tabulate the number of charitable appeals I have received by mail this year, but I agree: it is WAY TOO MUCH!!! I have become so irritated with nonprofits that send more than 3 or more pieces of mail a year that I have vowed not to support them ever again.

I wish I could tell nonprofits that they are taking the risk of alienating donors to the point that their appeals eventually will backfire. I'd like to plead with them not to abuse earth's resources. Each time I bring my paper trash for recycling, I cringe, knowing that 75% of my letter mail is from nonprofits.

If one can stop the mail delivery of catalogs and other commercial materials by subscribing to a "do not send" list, why isn't it possible to stop mail delivery of charitable appeals?

Id like to send each of my favorite charities a message: (1) I will contribute just once a year, (2) If you choose to use my contribution to solicit even more funding from me, I will stop contributing, (3) Just send an acknowledgment and I'll keep you on my future giving lists.

David Griswold said...

If I could play devil's advocate for a second - I can certainly understand why non-profits utilize snail mail. We who are here posting comments on a blog of course want to be reached online, because we are all too used to the "on-demand" nature of the internet and its benefits. But when you consider that the largest # of donors are likely to be of an older generation, who furthermore are not likely to be as wired to the internet - these non-profits need to reach them by other, more traditional means.

So, in this case, I'll defer to the words of Mr. Miyagi: "Better learn balance".

I think that non-profits could do a much better job of targeting their direct mail campaigns, and at the same time, as Larry has said, give folks a clear way to opt out of direct mail/substitute it for online alerts. Best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

I am involved in fundraising and we do send out a few letters each year--general appeals two times during the year, a renewal reminder in the summer, and mostly phone calls at the end of the year; and primarily trying to visit donors personally. I know this does not work with very large, national organizations who need (feel they need) to continue using direct mail to get more gifts. They are playing the averages in getting a few more gifts. But I do get frustrated with receiving some much mail from one organization. Case in point: Each Christmas I make a $50 donation in the name of each person in my family to their choice of charity. Last year I made a gift to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Since last year I have received mailings almost on a weekly basis from either the national organization, state organization or related organization. I am sure they have used up my modest gift sending me address labels, mailings, etc. I too want to contact them ask me to not send anything to try and solicit another gift. I made a one-time gift and in my mind, they've spent all of it trying to get a second gift rather than using it to further the organization’s programs. I know that they budget for mailing expenses and it is NOT my gift per se being used, but it does seem wasteful and I know from donors' comments that they see their actual gift going to these efforts. So it can be a real problem.