Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Too close for comfort

Do you ever wish that some charities you have supported in the past would just give you a breather?

They're a bit like that kid in school who wanted to be your best pal, when you already had a best pal. Every time you turned around, that kid was there again like lint on a blazer.

A recent article on the CharityVillage website helped clarify my thinking about this.

In the article, marketing expert John Suart pointed to a study of boomers who donated significant amounts online to charity. The study [PDF] identified three categories within this group.

The smallest percentage were Relationship Seekers who wanted a strong personal connection to the charity and its work. Presumably, they would welcome lots of eMails and newsletters from the organization.

Next largest were called All Business. They just wanted to make their donation, get a tax receipt, and be left alone.

The largest group, Casual Connectors, were between the other two with regard to their desire for contact and information from the charity.

I have high regard for fundraisers. They have a tough, but necessary, job.

But, wouldn't it be great if charities asked you how close you want them to get? Would that be so hard to do with all of the online communications tools now available? I'd be happy to spend a bit of time filling out an online form, if that would shut down the needless flood of stuff that goes directly to the real or virtual trash.

It seems to me that charities could save some money and have healthier relationships by doing this. For example, if asked, I could tell them whether I want to receive their address labels, greeting cards, newsletters, gift bags, key chains, and so on. I could tell them whether I prefer monthly or annual giving. I could tell them whether I prefer to donate online or via the postal service. I could tell them whether I want to hear from them by telephone or eMail. I could tell them whatever they need to know in order to have a happy and productive relationship with me.

How about it, charities? Ask the questions.

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