Minding nonprofits’ mailings

Mail - cogdogblog via Foter.comDear Handful of Respected Nonprofits:

Last fall, I contacted each of you and politely asked that you take my 90-year-old mother off your mailing lists. She was quite generous to you in 2015, and I can understand why you or your fundraising software algorithms would thank her profusely and ask for more. However, with her eyesight, memory issues, and conscientious soul, Mom was starting to treat your repeated mailings as bills that needed to be paid. As you can imagine, being nonprofit organizations that help others, that created problems.

As her power of attorney, I explained this to each of you, and you all agreed to remove her name from your mailing lists and stop all requests for donations. I also made use of the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference and caregivers’ registries — just to make sure it was clear that these solicitations were to stop. Those of you who followed through have my sincere thanks.

Mom passed away just after Christmas, and I had her mail forwarded to me. That’s when I discovered that a few of you were still sending mail asking her for donations. “We tried contacting you,” one said; “don’t you want to continue supporting this important work?” “We miss you! We need your help now more than ever!” another declared.

I realize it takes time for these “stop your mailings” requests to take effect, but I contacted you in October and you’re still sending mail in February.

Don’t get me wrong; I respect the work each of you does. You help people find hope and re-start their lives. You bring quality broadcasting to your community. You try to help this country, through its leadership, be all it can be. You were lucky to have the support of my mother, a Depression survivor who saw her share of challenges and wanted to give back.

However, you did not abide by what should have been a simple request to help protect my mother’s well-being. What does that say about the way you operate?

I’m not naming any of you because doing so would only distract. If you, the individual person reading this, are part of a nonprofit organization that solicits funds, I hope you’ll take a hard look at how you do that. And if people ask you to take them or an elderly relative off your mailing list, please do so. Your donors will find you, and funds are easier to recover than trust.

Any Adult Child

PHOTO: cogdogblog via Foter.com


Getting your news out: In brief

??????????????????O???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????If your business or organization has news to report or an event to promote, you have a vested interest in getting the word out effectively. Based on 25 years of writing, receiving, and editing news releases, here are a few tips for reaching your intended audience.

We’ll start with a very basic news release — something that will end up as a news brief in print or online or a short announcement on the air. How to construct a more detailed press release — one the media can actually use — will be covered later.

1. Email is the best way to submit news to media outlets; you can find email addresses on a newspaper or TV station’s website. Also look for a “Contact Us” or “Send Us Your News” link.

2. Keep it short, complete, and businesslike. If you’re announcing/promoting an event, all you need is two or three sentences.

Here’s an example of a fundraiser announcement:

The Dirty Nails Garden Club will hold its seventh annual plant sale fundraiser 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9 at Central City Park, 123 Whatever St. Several varieties of petunia, begonia and geranium plants will be available for $7.99-$12.99. For more information call (000) 000-0000 or visit http://www.dirtynails.org.

This fulfills journalism’s required four W’s and the H: Who (the garden club), what (the plant sale), when (10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 9), where (Central City Park), why (fundraising for the garden club) and how (people can find out more by calling the number or visiting the website provided). Leave out one of these, and the recipient may contact you for the needed info. However, he or she may well just delete it rather than take the time.

Here’s a business example:

Acme Auto Parts Corp. will hold an open house 1-4 p.m. April 18 at its new location, 5555 Commercial Road. This is Acme’s third Fort Wayne-area location and has an expanded selection of windshield wipers. Free windshield wiper inspections will be available at the open house on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, call (000) 000-0000 or visit http://www.acmeautoparts.com.

3. Good photos catch my eye and help spark reader interest. If you have a really good photo or two from last year’s garden club sale or of the new store, include it. In the email, include the names of all people in the photo, from left to right, if you have them.

4. If you are sending your email to more than, say, two or three addresses, send the message to yourself and put all of the email addresses in the bcc field. The more people on your email list, the more important this is. Don’t make your recipient scroll down past a long list of other recipients to get to the actual message.

Coming up: Build a better press release.