Monday, September 12, 2005


When is doing a donation appeal opportunistic vs. it being appropriate? Over the past week, I've seen almost every major non-profit put messaging out to constituents about how they are "helping" the hurricane victims - just about every singe major non-profit has both a statement and some mission related content for victims of hurricane Katrina to read.

The question I'm asking myself is - where is the line - and does it matter? For example - should a non-profit look at a natural disaster as a way to directly increase fundraising just because they have a local presence (ie a chapter or a program)?

I'm also asking myself "Is it OK to "create" new content that highlights the services in the affected area and promote that content to donors to try to increase donation activity?"

I believe that it is our responsibility to first and foremost update constituents in the affected area about our mission services - who to call, how to get help etc... in the case of "emarketing" services like web help, chat and message boards that can be tricky or impossible. I'm not exactly sure how many of our constituents are surfing the web in New Orleans at this point.

I did a quick check on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society discussion boards, and there was one posting wishing those affected well but that was it.

I do however believe that it's our responsibility to alert our donors, volunteers and others connected to us of what we're doing as an organization to provide any additional relief. Not from an appeal/donation standpoint, but as a point of information so they understand how we are executing our mission.

Past that I'm just not sure how much more we should be doing online.

Update: P.S. As I wrote this, I realized that keeping this discussion to emarketing only is tricky, or possibly useless - after all - emarketing is not a stand-alone channel. Perhaps the better way to frame this entire discussion is in a broader context.

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