Monday, October 03, 2005

What's In It For Me?

I was intrigued by a recent NY Times article (free subscription required) that talked about "selfless" giving to charities. Pointing out that American's had donated more than $1.4 billion to Katrina relief efforts, the article discusses altrusism from a biological perspective.

The contradiction the article points out is startling:

"Why does the generosity sparked by events like Katrina fail to appear when it comes to helping the 700,000 African children who die from diarrhea every year for lack of clean water?"

I've often wondered about the various incentive programs charities utilize encourage donors, participants and volunteers to stay involved. I do realize however, that it's great to raise a bunch of money for a cause and walk away not only feeling satisfied but with a gift certificate or iPod to boot.

The article points out that less than 1% of all contributors to a given cause are anonymous!

Obviously, you cannot be an anonymous participant in a marathon, nor can you collect your incentive without coughing up your name, address and email address either! So does the system work against anonymous giving or is the fact that only 1% of all donors being anonymous tell us something else?

I was at a restaurant yesterday and saw a plastic bottle with "Hurricane Katrina" scrawled on the side - and wondered to myself how often, across the country since that event did someone drop a $100 bill, completely anonymously into a plastic cup. Anywhere? Anyone?

In any case, I have follow up questions to ponder (your comments welcome...:
  • At any level, is an anonymous gift better?
  • As it relates to eMarketing and eGiving - where do we even get started? It's not possible to collect a truly anonymous online donation - but can we come close enough that a donor could feel truly anonymous?

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