Things to learn for GNOME?November 20, 2008 6:42 pm gnome, marketing
Having made a donation previously to Medecins Sans Frontieres, I occasionally receive mail from them solliciting donations. After one year when I didn’t give anything, I received a letter asking if I was unhappy with MSF and the work they were doing, with a detailed presentation of their major actions, and today, just in time for the end of the year, I received another mailing asking if I wanted to give again this year.
The entire mailing fascinated me, especially their donation form.
There was a bunch of stuff I found interesting about this. The letter emphasised that MSF gets very little public funding, and that 99.6% of its funding comes from private benefactors. I got a small glossy newsletter highlighting some of the most important work the organisation has done over the year, and on the donation form itself, there is a suggested amount of €200, which I thought was a bit high. But beside it, they talk about what they can do with that, and how much the donation will really cost you if you pay taxes (and most people do) – in short, if you give €100 to MSF, you’re actually giving them €25 of your own money, and €75 which you would otherwise be paying in taxes.
In other words, they simultaneously speak to your heart and your pocket. Nice work. In addition, they include a postage-paid envelope for you to return your donation. It’s as easy as write a cheque, put it in an envelope, post, done. Having to address the envelope and search for a stamp are barriers to donations, so they take them away.
They also include a brochure for their line of Christmas cards – another money-maker which is also free viral marketing for them. Every occasion is good for raising money for a good cause.
While the GNOME Foundation and MSF are very different organisations, I think there are lessons to learn for the foundation across the board here. We need to keep track of former donors and remind them why they gave, what we’re doing, and ask them to give again. We need to make it as easy as possible, within our means, for them to give. And we need to elaborate the value proposition: what do we do with the money, what good work are you supporting?
These are all things which we’ve been doing, or have done partially, in the past, but seeing all of the steps put together in a simple, nice package really brought home to me how much we need to leverage our donors – they’re people who believe so much in us that they’ve given money, and they can be our best ambassadors.