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WHAT NOW?

| June 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

Direct Mail: A Contemporary Dilemma!


If there were an award to get for “membership” in the MOST not-for-profit organizations, I could, by now, have earned it. 

Here’s my short list:  The Audubon Society.  Feeding America. The National Wildlife Federation, American Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, National Museum of African-American History/Culture, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Environmental Defense Fund, ASPCA, California State Parks Foundation UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, DCCC, Earth Justice, and Emily’s List.

And more. Really. 

I’ve only kept these membership cards, and made this list, to make my point – which is, however meritorious these organizations may be, donations would be better spent on tending to their services, making better cases for their need, describing how their money is used – i.e., particularly reporting successful or improved outcomes for their neediest cases, etc. These cards add to their budgets for no good reason (that I can fathom). 

At Steres Gaffen Media, president Eileen Gaffen opines, “Generally, people who donate to organizations have an affinity for the cause, and the organizations want them to feel part of a community. In years past, being a ‘card carrying member’ of an organization meant something!”

As far as I can tell, today there is absolutely no use whatever for these cards. If one “saves” them, they may serve as a reminder of the not-for-profit (NFP).  Probability: lite.  If one thinks they’re useful.  Try that.  Let me know.  (I actually finally made a lil’ use of them to write this grumpy complaint, and I guess, per this column, they received a lil’ publicity.)

As it is, I could make an equally long list of NFPs that somehow issue numerous requests during a given month, leading to…ummm…landfill.  In my condo building alone, many neighbors don’t even bother to open such mail.  (I confess I open it all; there actually might be “new” news, or a useful pad or greeting cards.)  I can’t imagine that continuing to compose, manufacture and mail address labels is still a good idea. I haven’t done serious research on this issue, but I’d be willing to bet my largest donation to any organization, that even using snail-mail and needing an address label, a rare occurrence these days, the costs and impact of labels is nil to negligible.  And such labels do not even reflect the NFP that’s gifted them, thereby losing a marketing opportunity, though indeed, a tiny one. But at least it’d be something. Particularly ones that don’t at least have the logo – or name – of the organization imprinted.

“Today,” continued Gaffen, “it’s easier to be part of a digital community – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – where nonprofits and donors can build relationships and get to know each other. Hopefully, the direct mail pieces are part of an integrated marketing strategy.”

Gaffen has a point.  If, however, the snail-mail continues to pack my mailbox I would much rather receive a short “please,” and “why” (that is, the merits of the organization) and not least, a “thank you” and a return envelope. 

Category: Life Style, Local News

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