Fundraising Silent Auctions: It’s the Items, Stupid
My last post was about the importance of making a good first impression with potential donors. If you want to keep these folks, it’s equally important to make a good second impression. Sadly, someone who should know better recently blew it with me. And I hesitate to call them out, because as a nonprofit professional I probably shouldn’t be criticizing a mailing from the premier nonprofit philanthropy education center* in the country. However, it’s said one should call a spade a spade.
I recently received a spade, ahem, a renewal appeal, from Indiana University Foundation. (Note: I know that’s where the Center for Philanthropy* is housed – sort of the ‘Mother Ship’ for fundraising education – and I presume that’s where I directed my previous gift, but the letter didn’t mention this at all).
I can’t thank you enough for your support of IUPUI. The enclosed pocket calendar is just one small way to show our gratitude.
There’s so much wrong here, I don’t know where to start.
- IUPUI? This acronym was used 4 times in the letter and 8 times on the remit piece, yet never explained. I had to look it up. Earth to Mother Ship: Hello?
- A pocket calendar? And it’s hefty; about the size of a checkbook. Who uses a pocket calendar these days? Smart phone, check. Date book, check. Sierra Club wall calendar, check. Pocket calendar, they’re all going in the garbage. Waste, waste, waste.
- And what did I make the gift for? I certainly don’t recall and, apparently, neither do they: “No matter what area or activity you support, please know that the whole university appreciates and values your contribution. I hope you will feel inspired to renew your gift today.”
- Inspired? There’s nothing remotely inspiring in the appeal. No personal stories of students who were helped, or professors who did amazing research, or what would’ve happened had they not received my gift. There aren’t even any statistics giving me a clue how many people they’re trying to help. (Thus far, I’m inspired to make my next gift either to The Society for Prevention of Acronym Abuse or the Please Save Our Trees Fund).
- And how much do they want me to give? And for what purpose? They don’t say. Everything is generic. The remit envelope does give me a string of $$ choices, but no choices of projects (though I can choose the IUPUI Fund for the Future, whatever that may be).
Remember the Nike motto: Just Do It?
Please, if you’re going to commit these cardinal sins: Just Don’t.
Does anyone have other examples of fundraising appeals that were a waste of the paper upon which they were written?