Tuesday, December 14

Salvation Army: Stuck on Stupid 

Target stores announced that they will not allow the Salvation Army to place their famous red kettles on Target store property this holiday season. Their decision is due to ever-increasing complaints from customers about being solicited for donations on store property.

My reaction: Duh!

Let's review marketing strategies in order of effectiveness:
#1 (most effective): Direct contact and follow-up
#2 Networking and referral building
#3 Public speaking
#4 Writing, publishing, and publicity
#5 Promotional events/seminar marketing
#6 (least effective) Advertising/mass mailing/cold calling/ringing that stupid bell

It's a shame that the Salvation Army will lose a potential $8.9 million dollars this year that would have been raised on Target property; however, maybe it's time for charities to rethink their strategies and get off #6 as their main way to put dollars in the coffers. Yes, even charities need to come up with better strategies for collecting donations than the old-fashioned ways they're still using.

Here are some ideas:

1. Get me gift certificates to amazon or Apple iTunes or Ofoto or eBay. $10 for every $100 donation ought to do it. And those companies chip in the gift certificates as their donation. Win-win. It's called corporate sponsorship. Oh, and do all this over the web, not at Target when I'm cold and harried and in no mood to be philanthropic! [But you could do it at target.com]

2. Do it at work. United Way has this mastered. Perhaps a buffet of at-work giving options - much like there are a buffet of investments available for your 401(k) or health plans for your medical coverage. Although you can't "out-United Way" United Way, you could take a lesson from their playbook!

3. Go neighbor to neighbor. Again, there's a model here - March of Dimes. Why are they the only ones that rely on networks of networks and neighbors, friends, and family? It's called viral marketing, people. And again, REWARD me for giving.

3a. I want cool stuff. See public radio and TV fundraising for this idea - give away CD's, DVD's, books, something. Make me WANT to give.

4. Appeal to the wallet. Use discount/member cards. How about if all American Cancer Society donors got into every Museum in the nation for free on Mondays? Or got half-price tickets to selected football games? Or got a free meal a month at McDonald's? (or someplace even nicer?)

The world is rapidly changing and we all need to change with it, whether we're in traditional sales or not. Instead of losing money, our charitable organizations have the potential to raise more money than ever before if they would just innovate their methods and make people smack their foreheads and say, "WOW! What a smart idea!!" as they reach for their credit cards.

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