In direct response media, there's a penalty to doing bad work: poor results. But that's not all. Bad work is pollution -- it can damage the entire medium it's in, causing it not to work even for those who do it well.
Example: broadcast voice mail -- often known by the delightful acronym BVM. They are pre-recorded calls that are meant to go straight to voice mail. You can quickly send tons of them at pennies apiece as a way to touch donors. And it works -- boosts response to other impacts every time I've seen it used. But you have to do it right, or you're going to kill it.
BVM in action #1. A co-worker who doesn't work on a certain client, but is a donor, recently got a BVM from that client's president thanking him for a gift. He was thrilled. He forwarded the message all over the office, telling everyone how great and personal and powerful it was.
BVM in action #2.Roy Young, blogging over on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog recently encountered some BVMs and called them Spam Phone Calls: "Just this morning, I had two come in to my business phone. First was a pre-recorded 'courtesy call'; second was a pre-recorded broadcast demanding 'attention business owners.' How aggravating."
Two experiences with the same messaging medium. Two completely difference reactions. Why? The calls Roy Young got suck. Attention business owners? Does someone seriously think that's not going to annoy people?
It's not going to take very many more "attention business owners" BVMs to render the medium useless, an automatic annoyance that people hate before they even engage with what they have to say. Because of no-good, irrelevant writing, BVMS are well on their way to spamhood -- and completely ineffective, no matter how well you write them.
So please -- do good work. Keep those channels open and welcome. If nothing else, do it out of respect for your donors.