The Red Cross is universally admired for the great work it does. Its members show up at crises of all kinds all over the world, and they come prepared. They respond to floods, droughts, fires, and human tragedies of all kinds. They know how to organize, provide shelter and provisions, arrange for first aid, and educate, among other things. So, they have my utmost respect.
Their fundraising arm, however, is not so impressive. Today I received a package that must have cost a lot to put together and mail out. It came in an envelope of heavy card and included, along with the usual long pleading letter that I won’t read, a page of stickers that I will never use, a decorated page of no obvious purpose, tear-off coupons specifying donation amounts, a postage paid reply envelope, and a very nice pen. Wow. I think your appeal cost almost as much as I might have donated.
What this tells me is that you have far too much money dedicated to fundraising and I would prefer that more of those funds went to people in need instead. No doubt you have experts telling you that this kind of appeal results in increased donations because we feel as though we owe you something in return for the freebies. I know I’m not alone in thinking that, instead, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a disinclination to send you money.
Deciding which causes to support and how much to send is a recurring dilemma, and each time I see an appeal, I sympathize with the need. I want to help, but I can’t help everyone. As such, I consistently give to a few causes that have special significance for me, and I occasionally send small amounts to others. When I see packages like the one I received today, though, it puts that organization much lower down the list of causes that might get my money. They just don’t seem to need it all that much.