Thursday, January 14, 2010

Should I Mail My Appeal At The Same Time as a Disaster?

The terrible events in Haiti will almost certainly be matched by substantial donations from people right now - people are good, and generous.

But what if you work for a charity that has nothing to do with emergencies abroad - and you have a campaign due to launch next week?

Should you carry on?

Regardless of the media - phone, email, mail, TV etc, the answer is almost certainly yes. All evidence we can find shows that giving goes up in a disaster - and the disaster gifts are additional.

Even if you believe income will be down if you run a campaign 'up against' a new-focused disaster - and all evidence seems to show this is the wrong conclusion - logic dictates you should still carry on.

The main reason is that for most organisations, whatever campaign that was planned was going at this time for a reason. Almost certainly there is another campaign planned after an appropriate gap.

So delaying could have much greater impacts on your communications plan than any potential drop in income right now. With 20 communications in a year, a delay by two weeks is effectively cancelling a communication. And if you think 'it won't matter to drop x communication' then you shouldn't have been sending it anyway. (Twenty communications is on the low side for most organisations - think appeals, newsletters, donor care, updates, emails, phone upgrades, surveys etc...)

However, I repeat - all evidence shows that you will make more money for your cause if you carry on than you would by delaying or cancelling.

For more numbers and details on the reasons why you should go for it check out this article - 'Tsunami Suicide and the Earthquake in China'.



Blase said...

Thanks much for this post! I recently accepted a position as a board member of my local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and we have Great Strides walk coming up. I've postponed reaching out because of all of the support going to Haiti, but after reading your post and the link that you included with some statistical data, I'm inspired to start reaching out full steam ahead. Great info and great post! Thank you! Blase

'Sean is always learning' said...

Thanks Blase, great feedback - I am not the only one saying it either, check out

Take care.

Stephen George said...

You are spot on Sean - the evidence is clear BUT the problem is mindset,approach and confidence. If you continue with the right respectful approach with your donors you will of course be fine. Be defensive and you wont. I remember the tsunami - we carried on and spoke directly with our supporters - they were inspired to give again not instead. Be confident!!

Disaster Fundraising Guide download it here