This week, my ‘thank you’ package arrived from the charity I signed up to with a door-to-door fundraiser last month, and I’m sorry to say it went straight in the bin.
I have to admit, I was relieved to see it at first as it meant I hadn’t handed over my bank details to a con man. But after that initial relief passed, indifference took over and it was added to the junk mail from cleaners, taxi firms and roofers.
‘There’s £1 of my £8 monthly donation gone down the toilet’, was my shameful thought.
Because I work on Third Sector, I probably understand and appreciate better than many donors that there will always be overhead costs. You can’t give 100% of your donations to the public – it’s impossible. I know that.
But despite knowing that, I still kind of resent the onslaught of direct mail landing on my doorstep from the causes I do and don’t support.
This latest piece of charity literature isn’t the first to be consigned to the recycling pile. The ones from charities I have never had anything to do with are always the first to go – without being opened, I might add.
Next are the charities I used to support but no longer do that are trying to win me back.
After that are the regular updates from the charities that I do support.
It’s a difficult balance to strike. I’d be the first to complain if I didn’t hear anything from them – branding them ungrateful and money-grabbing for taking my donations without acknowledging them.
But I can’t say I’m actually interested in what they have to say. As a natural cynic, I’m surprised to find that I trust they are spending my money wisely. I feel if I wanted to find out what projects they are currently working on I’d go on their website and find out. I don’t need a 20 page handout six times a year.
Now, I’m probably alone in feeling I don’t need regular updates. I’m sure the majority of people actually like them.
But have charities ever thought of just a postcard that says ‘thanks’, with a few pictures showing the work done recently, just once or twice a year? It could direct you online via a QR code for more information if you were that way inclined, and being just a postcard it doesn’t make you think much money was spent on it, or trees cut down for it. You could even allow people to chose this method of update at the outset.
Or even a text? Saying ‘thanks, we’re still working hard, come see our website if you want to see what we’re doing’.
Just a thought.