Open Letter to Charities I Support – Get to Know Me

Ironically, although I advised nonprofits last week to ramp up their year-end fundraising efforts, I cringe at the mass of direct mail and emails I’ll be receiving this month from the charities I support.  Like many donors, I consistently give to the same organizations each year, and it’s unlikely that repeated solicitations will convince me to give more – although they might persuade me not to give at all.

Recently, I received this letter from the Southern Poverty Law Center which fights hate and promotes tolerance, but sends me more direct mail than I would like.  So here’s my suggestions for how you can get to know me better and keep me as a supporter:

  1. Look at my giving history.  Most of my gifts have been smaller than the $250 you keep defaulting as the minimum suggested amount on your letter.
  2. Update your records.  You keep addressing mail to me and my wife even though we’re no longer living together.
  3. Cut the paper volume.  All of my recent gifts have been online.  Don’t use my donations to keep supporting the Post Office.
  4. I usually make my gifts near year-end.  So don’t send me multiple renewal notices many months before and then follow-up with a ‘final renewal request’ in early December.
  5. In case you’re unsure, ask me how I would like to be communicated with.  Better yet, give me a way online to update my address, phone, email & communication preferences – and then respect my choices.
  6. Please don’t sell my name to other organizations who do similar work – I’d rather find them on my own.
  7. Keep it short and use bulleted lists (which they actually did well here).  Whether on paper or online, I rarely read through the entire letter.

Yes, I’ll continue to support you as long as you do great work.  But please use my gifts responsibly and take the time to get to know me.

  • Linsey

    I’d like to print out your note and send it in the return postage-paid envelope to each charity who makes these mistakes. What do you think? And I immediately toss those who call me MR. Great post!!

  • nhr2000

    Sounds like a great idea to me, Linsey. Thanks for your response and Happy Hanukkah!