Oldsmbobile fundraising relies on what used to work, direct mail

Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Fundraising

Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile Fundraising

by Bill High

Oldsmobile fundraising.  Let’s coin the term.

Oldsmobile learned the hard way. They kept building the same old car, kinda clunky, big, velour seats, all to fit a generation of older people. But as the generations changed, they didn’t.  Japan, Korea, Germany all surpassed them. Better quality, sleek designs, better gas mileage became the norm. Oldsmobile didn’t change. Guess who is out of business?

We are seeing the same thing in fundraising. Direct mail is on the decline. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still important, but it tends to cater to the older generation that didn’t care as much about being involved. There’s a new generation coming. And keep in mind that “generation” may be overstated. It’s more the way people are looking at giving more than their age. What do they want?

  1. People give on emotion. They want to hear and see stories. We’ve gotten used to movie trailer clips, Netflix, YouTube and seeing what we want, on demand. A black-and-white direct mail piece by itself doesn’t cut it.
  2. We got to websites to check out ministries. We want to learn about who is leading the organization, who is on the board (translate: who else supports it), and what is the big “why”—the big cause.
  3. We expect to be drawn into a discussion. We want community.  We look to connect on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In short, we understand that there is an online community and frankly its easier to manage than going to an event or having you come to my house.
  4. We don’t like to be solicited all the time. It’s no longer about the “ask.” It’s more about the kind of information you are giving me. Do you give me content I can use in my day-to-day life?  Does your content make me want to share it because it is (a) emotionally captivating or (b) intellectually compelling? The more organizations feed their people in their area the more likely they are to succeed in the fundraising game.

These are some teasers—ideas to make you think and perhaps do some things differently.  To think differently than the Oldsmobile fundraising model because we all know what happens there.

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Published November 23, 2011

Topics: Nonprofit Development

FundraisingNonprofit Development

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