Aug

16

2013

Are Screaming Charities Deafening Donors?

Is all this cause marketing too much to care about?

Everywhere you turn today, there's another worthy cause trying to get your attention, time, and in all likelihood, money. Answer your door at home and it may very well be someone canvassing for a cause. Pick up a phone and odds are you could be on the receiving end of a worthy plea. Walk down the street and don't be surprised if someone with a clipboard asks for a few short minutes of your time.

Part of the reason for the full frontal assault is there are more charities and causes vying to get noticed than ever before. Don't believe me? For cancer-related causes alone, there are over 200 charities in Canada. To stand out in such a highly competitive environment is a challenge to say the least. Canadians have a short mental list of the causes they habitually support so the race is on for non-profits to become one of the chosen few.

As a result of the increased marketing noise, I'd argue we've become anesthetized to all the pleas. When one person shouts, you pay attention. When everyone is shouting at the same time, you get a migraine headache and become a bit numb to it all. Messaging tactics come in all shapes and sizes but in the cause-related space, fear and guilt have always been the two favoured communication approaches. The problem is that when everyone is doing it, these methods become considerably less effective.

That's why when something comes along to shake us from our collective slumber and remind us why we give in a simple, honest and pure way, it resonates so strongly. A perfect example is this CIBC Run for the Cure online video I was forwarded recently (it can be viewed here).

It cuts through all the artifice and fluff to get to the heart of why supporting breast cancer is such a worthy cause. Because we all tend to forget that there are real people dealing day in and day out with news that can change their lives forever.

Don't get me wrong: There are many, many extremely worthy causes out there. But what anyone chooses to support or not to support is a very personal decision. My wish is that we don't get more aggressive with our methods of getting consumers to care. Instead of pulling consumers in somewhat reluctantly, let's let the reasons to give speak for themselves.