How green is your fundraising, event or campaign?

21 Aug

green grass

The post could also be titled-How the government artificially raises and maintains the carbon footprint of the nonprofit space.

It doesn’t really roll off the tongue and sounds pretty dry.

Actually the whole topic of going green is pretty dry since it’s kind of a no-brainer. Raise your hand if your goal every day is to have the biggest carbon footprint you can have.

We can’t recycle everything-it’s a moot point-we don’t recycle everything, therefore we can’t.

Before I get off on a prolonged monologue on going green, I’ll get back to the title and suggest that most nonprofits current efforts for supporter engagement and fundraising can have their carbon footprint reduced. This is especially true of live events like the “thons”.

This post on mediapost.com talks about various thons across the US working in a diligent and purposeful manner to lessen the trash left behind after the event is over.

So why do I point my finger at the government over their role in the carbon footprint reduction challenge facing nonprofits? Three words – direct mail subsidy.

Depending on whose stats you read, direct mail accounts for 75% of donations in a business (individual giving to nonprofits) that is 2% of GDP and the 3rd largest industry in the US behind only the feds themselves and banking. Depending on what direct mail piece you use, your subsidy is around 50%.

Why is this the case in a world where digital is re-inventing and collapsing many legacy forms of communication? One reason is direct mail isn’t going away anytime soon. To many nonprofits it continues to produce results in the form of donations and brand awareness. On the other hand, I have heard many nonprofits say it’s a break even channel at best.

I’ve also heard younger donors say that they fear their donation just pays for more break even usage of direct mail so they shy away from responding. Many new donors today don’t have checkbooks. Seems like checkbooks may be going the way of the pay phone.

I think you know where I’m headed. The online channel is the only channel that’s growing for donations and the online channel is headed towards mobile-first and mobile-only as if it has four solid-rocket boosters attached to it.

If the federal government would only consider adding a subsidy for the use of the mobile channel for giving, imagine the teeny, tiny carbon footprint that all nonprofits would enjoy and be proud of. All it would take is a few sentences in one law to have a massive positive incentive for nonprofits to go mobile and it’s an incentive that’s sure to produce an equally massive positive impact on the carbon footprint in the nonprofit world.

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