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Charity Mags – time for a rethink?

The recent receipt of four charities magazines in a few days (Cystic Fibrosis; Arthritis Research; Lepra & The Stroke Association) by mail led me to the thought “Is this the right approach for all donees to be communicated with?”

The reason for the thought is that when reading so many in a row they all invariably seem the same in format and layout if not in their content. The general format followed seems to be of Foreword; short articles of Research News or other forms of updates on investigative work being done or developments on government actions; Fundraising activities round ups; a few major articles typically on either a major event, a major research writer covering what they are doing or a celebrity covers their interest in or impact by the subject of the Charity; and finally the magazine has a varying number of specialist adverts relevant to the charity where UK medical related. Cystic Fibrosis goes one further in separating out Fundraising into a separate newspaper.

The provision of different forms of information is clearly important to charities in keeping their activities in donor’s minds but sending magazines which one fears are largely unread and binned/recycled does seem wasteful use of resources. Also with the best will in the world I must admit that at best I largely scan through rather than read thoroughly.

In the 21st century with greater use of computers and consciousness on wasting natural resources, one wonders if the following should be considered as a better overall form of communication to donors?

1. Ask recipients firstly, if they actually want to receive such posted magazines (compliments to Cystic Fibrosis who do include such a document as part of the address label);
2. Consider also asking those donors if they would instead like to receive an emailed newsletter – the best example for me, which occurred a few days after all the above magazines had been received was Sightsavers International whose monthly one screen long newsletter is short and informative but allows links to longer news or webcasts as you wish to read or delete.
3. In turn accepting that a well constructed website (easily linked also through such e-newsletters) is increasingly going to be more cost efficient and effective in communicating with existing donors who want to know what is going on or what the charity is up to/involved with.

Do not be surprised if (time permitting) a further blog on the effectiveness of charity websites follows!

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