Thursday, February 11, 2010 THAT'S a smart idea...

I work with a woman who is passionate about animals. Passionate. She makes Sarah McLachlan, singer/songwriter and spokeswoman for the ASPCA, look like a hater.

As such, she generously supports multiple animal and environmental organizations including the ASPCA, National Wildlife Federation, Humane Society and others.

This has the potential to also make her an anti-environmentalist, in that all of these organizations use direct mail aggressively to renew donors and raise revenue. And for a while there her mailbox was inundated with mail -- labels, calendars, chatchkas of all kinds, and she had a hard time determining which ones she was going to donate to and which she was going to throw away. Which need was most pressing? Most urgent? Most important? She would wait for the next mailpiece, weigh all the options and then decide where to make her donation.

Finally, one year she assessed how much she gave to each organization and arranged to become a monthly sustaining donor for those who could accommodate it. Each month, the organizations ding her credit card for a pre-specified amount. She doesn't even notice it's gone.

This had two added benefits:

1. She started receiving less solicitation mail from the organizations she chooses to support, and instead only gets the kind of communication she's really interested in, namely, what their latest project is and progress they've made on prior programs.

2. Because she is a highly valued sustaining donor, these organizations are protecting her closely and her name is not being sold to every other animal/environmental organization out there, so she stopped getting mail from organizations that she had never supported previously.

She's happy because she's getting less mail; her chosen charities are happy because they are spending less to get the same amount of revenue. They also have the added benefit of knowing exactly how much she plans on giving and when to expect it.

A win-win for all.

1 comment:

  1. Yup, unlike other areas, diversification isn't that great when you donate. More impact if you give more to a few of your favorite orgs then little amounts to dozens.

    On a different note, I've always found it interesting how we lump animal rights and environmentalists together. Barbara Kingsolver has a very good essay on how animal lovers have trouble being environmentalists and vise versa. For example, the wild pigs that are in Hawaii or the rabbits in Australia. They aren't natural to the habitat and have killed a huge amount of plants, therefore many other natural creatures don't have anything to eat. Trying to catch and release these pigs/rabbits somewhere else is very difficult and takes such huge amounts of time the situtation only gets worse. When Hawaii tried to hunt the pigs, PETA was in an uproar...but if the pigs continue, native plants and animals will go extinct. Of course it isn't the pigs fault that our ancestors brought them to the island. Tough one for an animal lover and environmentalist. Sort of rambling here but it is another one of the many topics that Kingsolver has opened my eyes to.