Political fundraising shames its donors into giving

Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

This terrible piece of political fundraising, reported by the Seattle Times at Overdue bill? GOP hits new low with this fundraising appeal, crosses an ethical line by appearing overwhelmingly to be something that it’s not. Here’s the envelope:

Noticeofdelinquency

Nobody would think this is anything other than a real past-due notice. Not a request for funds from th4 Republican National Committee.

In fact, that’s what one recipient of the piece told the Seattle Times:

My heart skipped a few beats. Did I forget to pay my property taxes? Then I thought: My mailman probably thinks I’m a deadbeat.

Really, do you want a donor to worry about what the mailman thinks? Even for a few minutes?

It’s possible this piece worked — got an acceptable number of people to donate.

But that doesn’t excuse the outright trickery it uses to get there.

Urgency is ethical. So is reminding donors when they haven’t yet given. But using the shaming/threatening tactics of bill collectors — unethical.

Shame on them. They give all fundraisers a bad name.

See the letter here.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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