Monday, December 15, 2008

Tacky nonprofit advertising

The following sorts of ads are as old as professional fundraising itself, and like horror villains, never rest quietly in their graves. They're tacky, sure, but they also invite backlash and are often ineffective.
  1. The scare tactic. "Give to to us or these cute children/animals/women will get it." It's one thing to quote scary-but-already true factoids, but another to tell us that this charity is the only thing standing between society and a free handbasket ride to hell.
  2. The suicide note. "Without your support, our nonprofit will have to close its doors." While technically true of all nonprofits not supported primarily by grants, contracts, or fees, this tactic emphasizes the urgency of their claim - people will be laid off tomorrow!!! And so what? Despite popular opinion to the contrary, "nonprofit" is not supposed to be a synonym for "poor management." Put the organization out of its misery and it's likely a more stable one will fill that niche.
  3. The voyeuristic gaze. "Look at these poor children/people of color/bearded ladies." We used to call this a freak show back in the day. It's different from number 1 because it shows actual problems, not theoretical ones. It's voyeuristic because it shows only the before picture. One hopes the organization is spending money to ameliorate the world's problems, not just to photograph them.

5 comments:

turducken said...

A friend just sent me this.

Dave Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Daniels said...

You forgot the under-appreciated "we'll annoy the hell out of you until you pay us to leave you alone" tactic.

turducken said...

That's because I've never heard of it. What organization stops asking if you actually give?

....unless of course you send a dead sparrow.

Dave Daniels said...

I prefer a severed horses head myself. It gets the point across without being too bold.