Friday, December 9, 2011

BIG’s Blog: The Old Ways

I was reminded the other day of what the actions of a nonprofit organization can say about their organization.

I received a year-end appeal from a faith-based organization. The letter began with the salutation: Dear Friend. You might have thought that it would start with Dear Mike or Dear Mr. Browne. Nope; it began with 'Dear Friend.'

You know what? I’m okay with that salutation, because I know the organization. My mother would be okay with that salutation. We remember the time that all appeal letters started that way. We have a connection to the organization . . . the name of the organization means something to us . . . their brand allows us to overlook their lack of sophistication in mail methodology. But, what if it was someone my daughter’s age?

Of course, it wouldn’t have taken much in direct mail sophistication to slightly personalize that salutation to Dear Mike; in fact, the cost would have been minimal.

What it did do was have me stop and ask myself what else in their ministry they may be behind the times in. Are they really productive in how they steward my donations vis-à-vis their mission work? I know they care, but are they wasting money?

I also worried about their future. If they are employing 1970’s direct mail techniques, how do they make the leap to Internet communications?

A lot of charities are being given a “pass” by their current donor base in that “the old ways” of doing things still work for them. But what’s the future of their fund raising look like if they keep doing what they have always done? Do they care about reaching people in their 40’s, 30’s and even 20’s?

I am hopeful that all organizations that read this blog are experiencing year-over-year fund raising revenue growth. But, I am hearing a lot of organizations are struggling to hit last year’s numbers.

As a new year approaches, maybe this is this new year you re-think “the old ways” of doing things.


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