Monday, August 29, 2011

Charitable "Gifts?"

There is nothing that I love more than marketing — that is, if it is appropriately applied. Companies do it to sell product. People do it to sell themselves. Entrepreneurs do it to build businesses. Many companies retain Makovsky to do it on their behalf for a variety of reasons.

To be effective, marketing programs need to fit the subject like a glove fits a hand. To do otherwise would make the customer feel uncomfortable, which would have the exact opposite effect that any organization would want. So you have to ask yourself why any company -- or any non-profit -- would even consider making the customer feel uncomfortable.

I am asking myself that question right now. It is clear to me that charitable organizations need to market in order to raise funds to do research or help solve problems that will meet the objectives of their charities. But does the marketing glove fit the hand? I don’t have statistics on this, but I'd say based on my experience that too often it does not.

In my household we continue to receive from various charities incentives to donate money. And the list of these incentives is mind-boggling. Here are some examples: notepads and greeting cards, mailing labels, key rings, prayer cards, backpacks and shopping bags, wrapping paper, personalized pens, mini-blankets, water bottles … even cash. On a big mailing, this could amount to tens of thousands.

As someone who donates a considerable amount of money to a wide range of charities, I have to say that I am very put off by this strategy. It makes me an uncomfortable customer! Why are charitable organizations seeking donations by spending badly needed funds on gifts for their donors? What a waste! Isn't the cause itself an incentive for donating? These items are not marketing investments -- they are unnecessary debt. What a poor management! Any thoughtful donor would think twice before giving money to a poorly managed organization because of the possibility that the nonprofit might misapply the donation.

Need I say more?

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