The pictures and messages are the same, year after year, Passover after Passover, as are the techniques and methods used by most amutut (NGOs) in Israel in order to catch our attention to the plight of the needy or the hungry or the sick.
Dare I say it, donors are getting tired, and even worse, donors are becoming increasingly apathetic.
It’s our job as professional fundraisers to engage, excite and, if necessary, wake up our donors. Fundraisers have to employ the best marketing, promotional and creative techniques to catch the interest of donors in the fast-paced and technology orientated society in which we live.
It was while I was once again in attendance at the brilliantly informative Institute of Fundraising Annual Convention in London that I saw and felt the dynamism, the creativity and the new fundraising ideas flourishing from my colleagues in Europe. The passion for the profession that I witnessed, and the imaginative ideas I saw, made me emphatically decide that at Reuth, this Passover, we were going to do it differently.
And so was born a simple, yet effective, direct mail package, containing a single tea bag in a specially designed tea envelope and card. The message stated simply:
“In these hectic days of cleaning, shopping and non-stop preparations for the upcoming festival, Reuth sends you a moment of relaxation and self-indulgence. Brew yourself a cup of tea and, while enjoying the moment, see how you can best assist Reuth’s patients and donate toward urgently needed rehabilitation equipment.”
Our underlying purpose was to put a smile on donors’ faces, to make them stop and think and realize that someone had thought out of the box and used effective marketing techniques this Passover, thus engaging them and encouraging them to donate.
Will it bring in more money? I sincerely hope it will, but the project’s primary goal was to wake up donors and especially excite lapsed or dormant donors into some action and donation – however small.
Traditionally, as fundraisers, we have approached donors in a one-way relationship: stimulus – response. But the emerging use of e-philanthropy, for example, where the donor can be turned into an active partner of the donation process, has proved that the world of fundraising is changing. Donors now want to be motivated, even entertained and certainly to have a good feeling of involvement about their giving process.
Of course, many Israeli amutot have realized that there are creative ways to fundraise and approach donors, and the clever ones have reaped the rewards. Leket Israel, for example, has led the e-philanthropy revolution in Israel, and their email and internet campaigns are always inventive and original.
Beit Issie Shapiro’s virtual shareholders campaign stands out in my mind as a wonderful example of an amuta successfully applying business and marketing techniques from the for-profit world in the nonprofit world.
Other notable examples include Aleh, who sent their donors a cleverly designed jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing. The missing piece, printed with the word “you” on it, was sent to donors following their donation along with their receipt. Chabad Children of Chernobyl produced an entire Monopoly box game, with all the game’s well-loved elements adapted to their unique message as a children’s nonprofit. This perfectly aided their capital campaign to build a new building, with every “property” representing another room in the new building. Brilliant and fun.
Today, a fundraiser has to repack his toolbox. The modern donor expects the same novel and fashionable approach to philanthropy that he is exposed to daily in the barrage of promotions, media and marketing that envelops us.
And sometimes, it’s something as simple as a cup of tea – sent in a creative marketing package that can make all the difference.
David Broza has close to 30 years of hands-on fundraising and nonprofit experience working in Israel and overseas.