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24 October 2009


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Gina Spadafori

I get that, but ... it's not me. I'm a journalist. :)


Gina, it's really unfortunate fund-raising is spurned. It's the bread and butter of all nonprofits - none of us could do the work we do without asking people for help (money).

Nonprofits who cannot fundraise cannot survive. Which means they cannot do some of their awesome work (sheltering animals, saving lives, educating the public, creating publications, etc.).


Gotta find Nathan today and follow up on that all animal thing!

Tangi Adopt A Rescue - Joni

>Frankly, I hate direct snail mail. I only donate online. Email me. And don't follow up an online donation or email with snail mail. Stop killing trees kthnx.

Totally agree with this. I rather have email contacts and not snail mail. Spot cutting down the trees.

Send out nice e-newsletters and do more online networking.

Gina Spadafori

I never open anything that's not a bill or a personal letter/card. Never. Straight to the recycling bin.

Wasted money on the part of the non-profits.


It may seem silly, but the nickel bit worked well for PETA. I mean really well. You may not see it as effective (and generally people who have no experience with direct mail don't) but gimmicks like that work...innovative gimmicks even more so. It's mind boggling, really...I'm like you, I don't donate through snail mail, I ask to be taken off of any direct mail list, and I only give money online.

I hate direct mail. Hate. Yet I'm in charge of writing all the donor appeals and managing the acquisitions for where I work (I'm an essay style writer, so writing appeals has been painful and educational). It is still the only viable way to grow an organization. I'm hoping that will change, but when your donor base is still computer illiterate (and I mean that with absolute respect), you have to work with what you've got.

Mary Mary


I write some fundraising appeals too. The thing with direct mail is it hangs around. Emails ... blip, they are gone. But that letter or postcard can sit there by the front door for weeks (in my house, even longer). True "junk" mail goes into the trash right away, but appeals from charities I like ... I don't toss them immediately.


you cannot get off the mailing lists of nonprofits, however much you try. At least, after 6 months of returning mail requesting to be removed, my mom is still getting direct mail pieces from the same organizations, sometimes several times a month. Nature Conservancy, HSUS, National Wildlife Federation, all guilty guilty guilty. Shame on them, really.

Kim Thornton

Thanks for the great reports! Wish I were there. I decided I couldn't go to APDT because I needed to be here to receive a car today and then they told me last night it wouldn't be available after all. Sigh.


Mary Mary - I hear you. We get donations from folks using return cards from more than a year ago. There is something to be said for having the reminder right there in front of you.

EmilyS - You can get off of mailing lists if a nonprofit has a privacy policy. The problem is this: Let's say your mom donates to Charity A and has not told Charity A to keep her name private (don't sell/trade). To enrich their lists, Charity A trades its donor list with Charity B. Now Charity B has your mom's name and sends her a generic "acquisition" mailing piece. Charity B DOES NOT have your mom in their database because your mom isn't an actual donor but a potential donor. Now let's say Charity A trades their list with five other nonprofits - now your mom is getting acquisition pieces (different mailers than what organizations send to actual donors) from several different groups. The ONLY way to ensure your mom does not get on charity mailing lists is to make sure her name is marked as private with EVERY organization she actually donates to. Most charities have privacy policies - if a charity does not, and they refuse to remove your mom from the mailing list, more action might be necessary.

Gina Spadafori

Seems maybe if the journalism work dries up, I could make a living writing fund-raising pitches ... Not!


Lots of nonprofits could generate substantially more revenue by fine tuning their mailing list and their approach to reaching donors. It's usually easier to generate donations from previous donors than find new ones.

We donate gently used items to a thrift store which benefits an animal shelter in our area. Over the past seven years, I've probably donated used items to them on average three times per year.

We have yet to receive a thank you or request for cash donations. They have my snail mail address and email.

In another situation, I've volunteered for and donated cash to a local animal related group. Very rarely do I get a donation request from this group. They send email on occasion asking for volunteers for fundraising events but don't use email at all for donor requests. Those are infrequently sent by snail mail.


My apologies for misunderstanding your comment!

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