WARNING: Here Comes the Direct Mail Temperance Union
No sooner had we filed yesterday's post reporting that online fundraising may account for only 1% to 5% of total non-profit contributions than our inbox revealed the latest attack on a major fundraising workhorse — Direct Mail.
On top of our stack was a piece by Laura Novak in the New York Times titled “For-Profit Crusade Against Junk Mail” outlining the ambitious plans of one Pankaj Shah to rid the world of “millions of tons of unwanted mail” through his new organization GreenDimes.
GreenDimes, which wants your $15 in return for keeping the Junk Mail Wolf away from your mailbox, is but one of several recent hustles promising to save the environment and us silly consumers from ourselves by cutting off or dramatically reducing the volume junk mail.
Let me clear. I'm prejudiced. Apart from the fact that junk mail helped pay two kids' way through college, in the past 35 years I've helped send hundreds of millions of pieces of cause-related mail into American mailboxes. Direct mail that helped win equal rights for women…clean up America's rivers and streams…free political prisoners…build poverty housing…fight hunger… teach the illiterate to read… warn folks about AIDS and help those who have it…and elect lots of politicians — some of whom even did some good while in office.
So, when I read the Times piece and then checked out the sanctimoniou goals and statements of GreenDimes I felt professionally assaulted. And so should any of you reading this who do your level best each day make the world a better place by practicing the craft of direct mail.
Ahhhh, but then to the rescue… my Hero of Direct Marketing, the Constructive Curmudgeon Denny Hatch with a piece in his Business Common Sense e-newsletter debunking the nonsensical mission and fatuous purpose of GreenDimes.
This is must reading for anyone interested in the history of the anti-junk mail crusaders, the reasons why they inevitably fail, and the sheer hypocrisy (Denny cites Oprah Winfrey,a fan of GreenDimes, who mails lots of junk mail promoting her magazine!) that always guarantees their failure.
Take a look at Denny's marvelous history lesson and rant. You'll quickly come to appreciate why junk mail — direct mail — is the aristocrat of advertising and part of the royal family of fundraising.
As for GreenDimes, according to their website as I write this, they've now had a grand total of 9,556 folks sign their petition asking Congress to pass “Do Not Mail” legislation–including a whopping 28 here in my enviro-friendly home state of Massachusetts.
That's probably the approximate number of lapsed direct mail donors in Fargo, North Dakota.
Go get 'em, GreenDimes.