I’m sure your mailbox has been like mine these past few weeks – plenty of letters soliciting year-end financial contributions mixed in with the holiday greetings. The challenge has always been how to sift through all this and make the decisions to give to some causes and not to others.
Before you uncork a bottle of bubbly on New Year's Eve, will you be making any last minute donations?
How is the tough year affecting your year-end giving? Do we choose to support nonprofits that address hunger and housing? How about organizations that are filling a need created by government budget cuts such as those providing education or medical care and support to those who struggle to afford it?
Or do we support those nonprofits that may have experienced a drop in giving this year (like arts groups, for example), because a good base of their support now is being directed toward basic needs and they are not perceived as such? Do we support dire needs in our own zip code, state, country or across the ocean?
In this economic climate, difficult choices are coupled with our own decisions about how much we’re capable of spending, giving away and saving.
Given the amount of mail I’ve received (via the regular postal service and via email) now is a time of great need for the causes I support (as well as for those for which I’m not sure how I got on their distribution list).
Working in the nonprofit field, I tend to view fundraising appeals through a somewhat more critical lens, thinking about messaging, impact and other nuances.
A couple of recent articles caught my attention. In his monthly e-newsletter free-range thinking, Andy Goodman recounts a study conducted in 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University in which researchers studied the giving of students who received appeals using data alone to illustrate need, a personal story alone outlining need, and data plus story. The results in a nutshell: Story alone is a more effective appeal than data alone and surprisingly, data plus story.
A New York Times article recently touted Dec. 31 as the “most lucrative” day of the year for many nonprofits, especially those that solicit online giving. Nonprofits, the article says, are increasingly using a last-minute email appeal to entice people to take advantage of any tax benefits for giving during the preceding year.
Join the conversation: Has your mailbox seen more, less or about the same amount of fundraising mail this season? Which appeals do you find most impactful? Any examples you’d like to share? What’s your experience with New Year’s Eve giving? How much giving do you do then? Or, if you’re a nonprofit, is that a “lucrative day” for you?
- Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF communications associate