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Michael Hodgson

It's all about number 4.

And that's part of the responsibility of donors and charities. If I don't know how often / rarely you want to be contacted, I can't contact you that often / rarely.

As a fundraiser, people will happily complain to me about other charities that send them "so much junk mail", yet none of them have contacted the charity to ask them not to.

Now a charity shouldn't be blanket mailing their database when there's no response, but it's impossible to have a two-way conversation with a donor, if the donor won't join in.

We (charities) need to be approachable, we need to respond to encourage people to approach.

R. McIntyre

I have interesting information about MCJC Ventures that I would be willing to share with anyone that would like an inside scoop on the practices of this company.

Mark Hierlihy

I think there is a greater point here that is being missed as some are taking offense to the challenging thinking.

Demographically, I am a Gen X'er and have been in fundraising for over 15 years. And, I believe in direct response. It works...so far! But I have to tell you, as a donor, I am increasingly resistant to the"push" tactics that have been inherent in the direct response mentality. Reality is, that as younger donors come on stream (who knows when?), they want to be in control and they will turn you off more quickly than their Boomer or Civic predecessor donors.

The question in my mind is, will charities be able to transition to a "pull" strategy to transition to more engagement tactics than interruption tactics? It's a difficult transition. I've been struggling with this myself, but I think we're going to have to become far more clever as marketers of our mission.

female fundraiser

Sorry Joan-

but if you knew anything about web 2.0, you wouldn't be making such a grandiose statement. I think you are referring to "new social media" and new social media is the new online junk mail. As someone who is a fundraiser and in the new social media community, I think people think that they are getting involved by "fan-ning pages" "retweeting causes" or "re-blogging links", but in actuality this is actually not leading to real donor dollars. Maybe one day we will see a major shift, but the harsh reality is that the donor demographic is much older than you think it is. And they mostly don't give their money online.

But I guess you wouldn't know much about those kinds of numbers would you. So yes, New Media is killing print, but the nonprofit world is about 5 years behind that.


Web 2.0 fundraising makes this irrelevant. Donors who give to nonprofits on social networking sites, like Change.org or Facebook Causes, are allowed to opt-out of providing contact info. That's why I only donate now on social networking sites... because nothing annoys me more these days than the endless funding appeals and junk mail from nonprofits. In fact, I have stopped donating to nonprofits that mail me all that stuff because they likely have my address either from trading it or buying it... and they are obvioulsy just wasting thousands of dollars.

Most nonprofits don't understand the implications of Web 2.0 on fundraising - or most bloggers for that matter. And 20-something's who will soon evolve into to donors care about sustainability and frugality... that's their generation. Quit wasting trees and money... it turns Web 2.0 donors off.

I donate to about 100 nonprofit a year on social networking sites for two years now... and will never go back to checks or nonprofit web sites again... I always provide my email address, but never my mailing to these nonprofits when I donate... and my junk mail from nonprofits has decreased by 95% in two years.

Personally, I think Charity Navigator made a good point and I think it's pretty rude how The Agitator called them out like that. Can't you boys just ever get along? But that's a whole other point... men and how rude they can be online... even the nonprofit one's. Catch up boys! Web 2.0 is killing print... and Web 3.0 will take it all mobile... and the sooner nonprofits start preparing for it, the better... because it is going to happen fast. And the key to success online in the coming years will be all about being a good, friendly, community builder who can get along with others and respect others opinion without name-calling or testosterone indulgence... take a few pointers from your female colleagues. Do you ever see them pulling these kind of stunts or having public arguments? Never. It's annoying first thing on a Monday morning.

Carla G.

And now I see that there is a company in Scottsdale, AZ called MCJC Ventures, LLC that is providing an existing "texting" platform to get a daily message out to a charity or church's donors or members. I called the company and asked them about it, they gladly sent me some information on it. I asked them if they have any charities using their texting platform and they told me Creflo Dollar Ministries and Jamal Bryant Ministries as well as the Southwest PGA, also located in Scottsdale, AZ have been using it for some time now. They charge each donor or "subscriber" as he put it $4.99/mo. to get a daily custom text message directly from the charity and the charity gets a good portion of that. Seems there may be a new technology for revenues for charities now with this! Anyone else heard about this?


I find it surprising that Charity Navigator's first piece of advice was to give to fewer charities. Don't they want to encourage charitable giving? Don't they promote multiple nonprofits, all of which would appreciate gifts of any amount? I don't think this point should've made their list.


I appreciate Charity Navigators tips! As a donor, I find myself hesitant to donate even to great organizations for fear of the mail. I recently wanted to provide another contribution to them because of their incredible work, but almost didn't because of their past incessant emails and letters. (One email a month for me is okay, but one email a day is not). I did end up anonymously giving through Network for Good. I agree with Jeff that nonprofits should be proactive in giving donors the option of how and how often they would like to be contacted.

Ellis M.M. Robinson

Thank you for calling Charity Navigator on the carpet for this.  I was appalled at their misunderstandings about the importance of direct mail and its role in communications, action, and fundraising.

  A few things to add to your list of internal to-dos:

* Even though it is not legally required, nonprofits should run any mailing lists past the DMA's "do not mail" list to remove anyone who has requested no third class mail thru this national source.  The cost is minimal and saves annoyance.

* Talk with your data processing provider to make sure that your merge/purge algorithm is as tight as possible.  For example, consider using a "household" match for prospecting, to make sure that each address only receives one mailing.

* Maintain your own "do not mail" list that includes all those people who contacted you and said "never mail to me again."  Use that list as an additional eliminator for future prospecting.  These folks will not be on your membership/donor list, but could be on a rental or exchange list.  Not worth aggravating them again!
Thanks for your good work!

Ken Berger

To set the record straight, Charity Navigator does not “buy into the myth that fundraising is a form of harassment”. The video was hardly an indictment of what we consider the respectful way that the vast majority of charities go about fundraising, including direct mail appeals.  Rather, it was aimed at assisting those on the receiving end of endless appeals, and who are fed up with the practice (and we receive complaints by the thousands every year), to take a proactive approach to remedy the situation.  Your advice to charities as bulleted in your blog piece is all well and good if they take it, but our experience (yes, we are givers ourselves with drawers full of “gifts”, including enough address labels to last two lifetimes) is that a good many of the bad actors frankly don’t give a darn.   Until they do, we’ll be happy to continue to provide individual donors with the tools and information they need to stop what is, in their view, excessive soliciting.  After all, it is about the donor, isn’t it?

Ken Berger, President & CEO
Charity Navigator

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