March 31, 2011: Sometimes you just have to wonder about an organization. The other day I received a solicitation letter for the annual campaign of a major nonprofit of which I am a member. The letter began “Thank you for your generous support of the (name). As a member you play an integral part in making us one of the most distinctive and vibrant cultural institutions in the world. We couldn’t be what we are today without your vital support and commitment!”

It continued, “Today, I’m asking you to consider going a step beyond your annual membership dues by becoming a contributor to our Annual Fund. Please remember back when you purchased your membership. Think about why it was important tor you to become a member…”

Pretty standard fare and not all that inspired, especially since it came out over the VP for development’s signature not the chair of the board or CEO. But that pedestrian approach isn’t the real failure.

I didn’t purchase my membership. It was given to me.

Hello, have these people never heard of segmentation? How am I supposed to: “Please remember back when you purchased your membership?”

But it doesn’t stop there. I was given my membership nearly four months ago, and this is the first communication I have had from the organization since their acknowledgment of the membership three months ago. And yes, they have my email address. I’ve received no previous snail mail nor email.

Basically what this organization has succeeded in communicating to me is that they:

  • Haven’t the foggiest idea who I am and don’t care.
  • Think that the only reason I matter to them is because I can give money.

How about a little relationship here! Shouldn’t I at least be asked out on a date before I’m asked for that first kiss? How easy do they think I am? And you know what, I’m pretty sure they won’t respect me in the morning. That makes it real easy for me to say NO.