The stuff charities send through the post

There was an interesting article in Third Sector on Friday:

Fundraisers should stop using incentives, such as pens and coins, in their fundraising packs unless they are relevant to the charity’s cause, charity direct marketing experts have told the Institute of Fundraising.

If adopted, the proposal could put an end to incentives such as coins or umbrellas in packs, the institute has acknowledged… The agencies suggested … the inclusion of statements such as: “This pen cost 2p. We included it because we encourage supporters to write to beneficiaries, which is an important part of our work.”

It could also require charities to include a statement telling donors that they should not feel obliged to make donations because they had received an incentive gift….”

This makes sense to me – I’ve often thought it felt all too easy to do this stuff, and that more consideration should be taken about the benefits of these promotional items weighed against the cost – to make sure that they are not a waste of money.

Ironically – and the reason which prompted this post – the same day, I got a letter through the post from a charity I’d never heard of before. (I won’t name them because that feels a bit mean)

They sent me a stack of Christmas cards, and some little diary/calendar things. And an invoice – prefilled so I could just write a cheque and send it back. If I wanted more, I could order more. If I didn’t need all of them, I could send them back.

Am I turning into a grumpy old man (entirely possible) or is this more than a little annoying?

An organisation I had never heard of before sent me a bunch of stuff that I didn’t ask for or want, together with an invoice. And it’s up to me to go to the trouble of sending it back.

Bah, humbug, harrumph, etc. 🙂

It’s an interesting perspective, though – we’ve put a lot of effort into doing mailshots in the past. It’s always hassle and tiring, and in all the effort it’s easy to lose sight of how it might be received. This sort of thing can have a big impact on people’s perceptions of your “brand”.

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4 Responses to “The stuff charities send through the post”

  1. James Taylor says:

    I think it’s very annoying but then I definitely show grumpy old man tendencies! Bah humbug.

    Anyway, I don’t think it is up to you to send them back. Check out the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971.

  2. dale says:

    predictable response defending sending stuff through the post focusing on pens. Seems like it’s missing the key point that charities should be considering and justifying the expense (e.g. saying “we’ve spent 2p on this pen and this is why”) to donors. Ah well.

  3. Anton Piatek says:

    I have received cards from a charity, and never got round to sending them back. I didnt choose them, so am not going to pay for them.
    Then again, I tell myself that because I have 3/4 charities on direct debit that I shouldn’t feel guilty about ignoring charities.

  4. dale says:

    Yeah – I suppose you’re both right, that I am entitled to not bother sending them back.

    And I guess they expect that – it must be factored into the cost of this as a fundraising exercise: sending out X packs of cards, where Y people will return them and Z people buy some, must make a profit that covers the people who don’t do either.

    Would be interesting to know what those numbers are 🙂