Ed’s Hunches…

Are usually pretty good ones, but these two hunches are, I think, especially solid. Drawing on a [recent column by Michael Stein](http://www.getactive.com/wordofnet/tsunami052605.html) noting some trends in transactional giving for post-Tsunami relief, Ed theorizes:

  • Supporters don’t want to be members. As Michael noted, people are increasingly giving on an “as-needed basis,” and I think this stems from a desire to be helpful while protecting one’s privacy and identity. People who are happy to support your cause in a variety of temporary ways are reluctant to become permanently affiliated with your organization. As I said recently, “People want to give, but they don’t want to be on your email list, because they’re not going to read your boring newsletter, and they don’t trust you to keep their address out of the wrong hands.”
  • Don’t email them, they’ll Google you (or read your feed, or search for your tags.) Michael also cites “information overload,” and I think this is significantly eroding (or at least transforming) the value of email as a mass communication channel. Everyone’s Inbox is too full these days. Non-essential messages get deleted immediately. Email’s not going away anytime soon, but relying on it as the only online channel is going to yield diminishing returns.
  • Hand that man a cigar. Web publishing is becoming relatively more important as RSS and tagging “unlock” web content from its site of origin, and let it roam through the internets.

    2 thoughts on “Ed’s Hunches…”

    1. While I think his assessment is spot on and it reflects exactly how I feel about my philanthropic endeavors, I don’t think it makes for effective fundraising.

      People need to be asked for money and not in a passive way like on a visit to a site (and I’ve seen even fewer online fundraising appeals as I’ve come to rely on my newsreader). Even though nobody likes guilt and nagging from their favorite nonprofits, it’s still an effective method of fundraising.

    2. I love the metaphor of content “roaming” on its own–nice image, Jon.

      Dave, the rest of my original post makes it clear that I don’t think email’s going away anytime soon–it’ll continue to be a very good way to send proactive (read: nagging, guilt-inducing) appeals to that subset of your audience that actually wants to be on your list.

      But as more and more people opt out of lists, nonprofits are going to have to make more effective use of RSS, tags, and other “push” channels that don’t rely on email. There are people out there who will never subscribe to your list, but they’ll be happy to give if you reach them in the right way at the right moment.

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