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Kristof's Advice for Saving the World.
December 28, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

What would happen if aid organizations and other philanthropists embraced the dark arts of marketing spin and psychological persuasion used on Madison Avenue? We'd save millions more lives.
posted by lunit (50 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, but we all know that it's just so much more effective for charitable organizations to CONTINUE SENDING ME DIRECT MAIL, years after I donated, squandering my entire donation on postage, and erasing any good will I ever had towards them.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:59 PM on December 28, 2009 [25 favorites]


Oh man, this would have been a perfect FPP to work in Easterly's "How to Write About Poor People". You can join in the fun, yourself, too!
posted by FuManchu at 1:04 PM on December 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


There are a lot of lessons that the Philanthropic community needs to learn, and this is one of the most important. (Afroblanco's is another--though charitable organizations do get non-profit postage rates, so it's around half the waste that you'd think it was).

I'm sending this to all the folks in charities that I know.
posted by wires at 1:04 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


CONTINUE SENDING ME DIRECT MAIL, years after I donated, squandering my entire donation on postage

Solution: keep sending them more money for stamps.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I got on a ton of charity mailing lists and probably get over a dollar a month in coins glued to donation pleas. I stopped feeling guilty about just taking the coin and then tossing the rest. I give to several charities regularly but do not at all appreciate the subtle bullying of being mailed hard currency with the expectation that I mail it back along with a check.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, to all charities: I don't want or need return address stickers, cheesy notepads, calendars, angel coins, foldout maps, etc etc. It's all junk and gets binned.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:09 PM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Solution: keep sending them more money for stamps.

Only if they promise to plant more trees to make up for the ones they slaughter needlessly. I really think that NFPs should give you an option to "give us money and then never bother you again."

EARTH TO NFPs : I HATE BEING ANNOYED. STOP IT.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:15 PM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I really think that NFPs should give you an option to "give us money and then never bother you again."

I actually recently received one that featured a big, full color picture of a baby with a cleft lip on the front of the envelope with the caption that had words to that effect.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:23 PM on December 28, 2009


Yes, I would like to challenge a particular NFP: If I don't receive promotional materials for an entire year, I will donate X amount of monies, and see if they can make it happen.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 1:25 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, the question What would happen if aid organizations and other philanthropists embraced the dark arts of marketing spin and psychological persuasion used on Madison Avenue? is silly:

NGOs embraced that dark side long ago. Between the complaints here, the "oh yea there are come organizations that do this" mention at the end of the article, and the legion of manipulations that William Easterly writes about, you could fill several books with exactly how media and psychologically savvy those NGOs are.

The article was just a pitch for his own book and HalfTheSky foundation. (Whose website, ironically, is not available in China where the phrase began.)
posted by FuManchu at 1:25 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dark Arts? WTF?

Perhaps the first step might be to not vilify such techniques as craven and manipulative.

The second might be to actually speak to someone in the industry, and let them explain what's worked previously for non-profits on small and large scales, rather than assume that he's discovered some new tactic. Persuasive advertising campaigns that focus on individual, (rather than group) stories have been used to great effectiveness to educate the public and sell charitable causes for at least 50 years. Often, the campaigns that focus on groups and star power achieve little result.

Warning: the "educate" link is heartbreaking, on several levels.
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Fascinating. Kristol's summary of what appeals in marketing reminds me of the moments on MeFi when one encounters one of those compelling personal stories in the comments and the whole subject suddenly leaps into new focus. These stories often have implied happy endings, too, as here is the person now, alive and able to provide cogent, well written insights into the topic at hand. Didn't figure out before that it was the personal, upbeat appeal of these comments that was sucking me in.

Darn you, autobiographical MeFi commenters!
posted by bearwife at 1:27 PM on December 28, 2009


we all know that it's just so much more effective for charitable organizations to CONTINUE SENDING ME DIRECT MAIL

Well, actually... it is more effective. I've been in non-profit fundraising for 10 years now, for some of the most beloved charities on Mefi. Charities don't just send direct mail for the hell of it. They test and retest every appeal, including frequency and timing. And the truth is (except in times of economic crisis), the more mail we send, the more money we get. And given that donations via direct mail are often a significant, if not the largest, source of funding for many organizations, a very cautious approach is taken when thinking about changing the formula for mailing.

We are continually struggling with the issues of a) pissing people off and b) carbon footprint every day. But we also aren't willing to do something that could mean losing millions of dollars for our programs.

However, with a decline in direct mail revenue this year, many NGO's, including my own, have been developing innovative fundraising programs that might supplant the traditional direct mail in years to come.

With regards to Kristof's article, it's not something that my org doesn't consider. But the struggle is serving endangered populations, and telling their stories in a way that isn't exploitative. Especially with regards to children. As a consultant I used to work with would say about non-profits entangled in issues of messaging and mission, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich?" It's a difficult question to answer.
posted by kimdog at 1:30 PM on December 28, 2009 [13 favorites]


marketing spin and psychological persuasion

I don't know if I agree with this, as though charities are coaxing money from reluctant people, or some such.

I see the those I know who most support charities do so because of some personal experience, either as a recipient of similar charity, or having been closely involved with the people/problem that the charity addresses. The article suggests the use of individuals and successes, but I don't think it's down to emotions, rather more to do with understanding of the existence and solution to problems. Perhaps it is more about selling a conception of a problem a donor can buy into intellectually, allowing your organization to become what would be their solution to the problem, and demonstrating that they were right in their diagnosis/solution because it works! I've heard that knowing how a charity spends its donations can really encourage or put people off, as they agree/disagree that they would solve the problem in the same way, and so feel less ownership of it.

So I think ownership of the charity and its ends/goals is maybe what is being sold here, and less emotional involvement than we expect.
posted by Sova at 1:51 PM on December 28, 2009


I think they should get steve jobs involved.

That way being disadvantaged could become a design feature.
posted by srboisvert at 1:56 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dark Arts? WTF?

Perhaps the first step might be to not vilify such techniques as craven and manipulative.


Actually, after viewing pretty much the entire cycle of Adam Curtis documentaries, especially The Century Of The Self, I have a hard time not seeing "Dark Arts" in just about any promotion which appeals to my sense of self and seeks to persuade me through any means other than intellectual, factual appeal.

Should be required viewing, along with the rest of his works. Many hours of viewing, many more excellent eye-opening moments about the world we live in follow.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Grrr. Meant to include the link to the Adam Curtis documentaries at Archive.org.
posted by hippybear at 2:02 PM on December 28, 2009


Tell me with a straight face that those Sarah McLachlan animal ads don't use every trick in the book to make me want to sign-over my entire paycheck.

I don't even know the name of the charity.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:07 PM on December 28, 2009


Tell me with a straight face that those Sarah McLachlan animal ads don't use every trick in the book to make me want to sign-over my entire paycheck.

They inspire nausea in me and make me change the channel, thus defeating the purpose of television programming in the first place -- to get me to watch the commercial time which paid for the show. (Not saying I'm a heartless bastard... I simply cannot watch commercials showing wounded and abused pets without wanting to vomit from disgust at the maltreatment and outrage at man's general inhumanity.)

We'd be out of Afghanistan and Iraq by now, both of them, if they had similar ads showing dead and wounded children and other civilians with heart-rending music with lyrics about being treated so badly for so long that you don't feel like a human anymore.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh god, what an ignorant, patronising article. Kristoff - a journalist - presumes to lecture the entire NGO industry on how to get donations, based on a couple of articles he wrote that people liked, and some hoary 'social science' "discoveries".

Some problems:

a) As if NGOs are some kind of monolithic entity that all campaign the same way, to the same audience, for the same reasons.

b) As if NGOs aren't constantly testing and trying out different marketing and PR activities, and - get this, Kristoff - sometimes even more than one at once for different programs!!!!

c) Acting like NGOs get nothing but the dregs of the marketing/PR world. Certainly, the NGO sector is rife with incompetence. But it's also rife with top-tier professionals. Many techniques now firmly enmeshed in the private sector came by way of charities.

Of course if Kristoff had bothered to do even the most perfunctory research and actually spoken to some NGOs about their programs and efficacy, rather than cobble together some random anecdotes about birds and his selfless reportage in developing countries, this would have been immediately clear.

Forgive my fervour, but the kind of thinking in this article really, really pisses me off - that aid is a simple problem, easily solved, if it wasn't for those gold-derned aid agencies turning everything they touch to shit. All it does is make another excuse not to engage.

I'm don't have a ticket on the Easterly BJ-train that's so popular on the internet, however Easterly is definitely right about one thing: Aid is complex, unpredictable, and ultimately really really hard. Not like writing for Outside Magazine, it seems.
posted by smoke at 2:23 PM on December 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Kristof seems to be operating from a couple different flawed premises here. One, that the problem in development is lack of money. That's strongly disputed, to say the least. Corruption, lack of infrastructure, attitudes and practices that favor short-term projects, the challenge of finding effective incentives for social change - and doing all of these without creating a culture of dependence - are all multi-dimensional problems that aren't going to be solved just with more money. Two, that fundraising, awareness, and policy campaigns can and should use the same approaches with the same degree of success. Successful marketing is about knowing your audience and what it responds to. Statistics do have their place.

I find it interesting that Kristof lauds Kiva, when Kiva's marketing practices have been a recent source of controversy, even appearing here on MeFi. The controversy arose in part because charitable organizations are held to different standards of messaging than corporations, and are expected to be transparent and "honest" in their outreach practices. I don't think this is a bad thing, but it's one indication that adopting marketing practices from corporations isn't as easy as Kristof seems to think - different expectations dictate different approaches. As kimdog and smoke note, NGOs are not stumbling around blind when it comes to marketing practices. I'm not even in fundraising or communications directly, and I absorbed the "find a happy beneficiary story and take a happy picture to go with it" message years ago. This is not some startling new insight, at least in large organizations that have been around for awhile.

I think a key facet that Kristof overlooks is right there in his story about the outrage over Pale Male vs the lack of outrage over atrocities in Darfur: "The co-op removed Pale Male's nest, outraging New Yorkers and generating considerable news coverage." People respond with urgency to issues that are, in some way, close to them. Geographic closeness is an important aspect of this, so it doesn't surprise me that New Yorkers reacted strongly to something that was happening in their backyard. In addition, the groundwork for the outrage over Pale Male's plight was actually laid over decades by conservations struggling to convince people that they should care about humans' impact on wild animals, so again, it doesn't seem so surprising that it took years to build an effective anti-apartheid campaign or to raise awareness about Darfur. It takes time and effort to bridge gaps - hopefully we can learn how to make the gaps smaller and bridge them more effectively, and strategic marketing around issues plays a role in this, but I think Kristof is overly optimistic about it's potential for short-term impact.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


Actually, after viewing pretty much the entire cycle of Adam Curtis documentaries, especially The Century Of The Self, I have a hard time not seeing "Dark Arts" in just about any promotion which appeals to my sense of self and seeks to persuade me through any means other than intellectual, factual appeal.

Should be required viewing, along with the rest of his works. Many hours of viewing, many more excellent eye-opening moments about the world we live in follow.


Thanks for the link. I find the topic fascinating. Will take a look at them.

Frankly, it would be nice to see something other than the usual mindless garbage decrying advertising campaigns and persuasive messages as cause of all that is evil in this world. Hopefully Curtis is more interested in conveying a nuanced, well-rounded argument.
posted by zarq at 2:25 PM on December 28, 2009


Hope I'm not doing blue Pepsi by saying it is the ASPCA . . . I know this because I, too change the channel immediately, but then tend to up my donation soon afterward. I also don't read the heartrending letters about individual suffering from the ASPCA and children's charities, for the same reason, but I admit they still prompt me to donate.
posted by bearwife at 2:26 PM on December 28, 2009


Frankly, it would be nice to see something other than the usual mindless garbage decrying advertising campaigns and persuasive messages as cause of all that is evil in this world. Hopefully Curtis is more interested in conveying a nuanced, well-rounded argument.

I think Curtis doesn't argue so much that it is the advertising or persuasion which is the cause of evil... Rather he argues that the ends toward which it has been used are bad for society, and the reprogramming of the greater social structure and individual worldview which has been wrought are having unintended consequences which are working against the greater good.
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find Easterly's writing so smug and cynical. It seems like he has to preface everything he writes with some phrase about how he's not against all forms of aid, but I don't buy it. I think his message is too appealing to conservative critics of American intervention.
posted by sswiller at 2:39 PM on December 28, 2009


Rather he argues that the ends toward which it has been used are bad for society, and the reprogramming of the greater social structure and individual worldview which has been wrought are having unintended consequences which are working against the greater good.

This I would agree with, to a point. Not every advertising campaign has had direct (or meta, for that matter) negative effects. Then again, that may be my own personal biases showing. :)

I'll check it out. Thanks again for the links. :)
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


As an abstract idea, I think Kristol is right that many bleeding-heart types are afraid to get their hands dirty, but we should ask whether doing a little manipulative marketing is getting our hands dirty enough!

I think this is a fair summary of the article: "Given that the exploitative system of global capitalism that excludes billions from its benefits is here to stay, what morally gray-area methods can we use to convince rich Westerners to voluntarily give a little bit back?"

The real purity problem here is that we're not quite willing to make the moral case that it shouldn't be voluntary -- unwilling to dirty our hands by taking power. This is obvious when you consider that the moral conundrum in the article is "If we manipulate them, doesn't that violate the rights of the Western givers?" The correct answer is "Yeah, so?"

The real problem is that even the Left is operating within a moral framework where billions of human beings suffering in the third world is a regrettable outcome of a basically just system, that should be best addressed through voluntary, compassionate giving.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:44 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I actually recently received one that featured a big, full color picture of a baby with a cleft lip on the front of the envelope with the caption that had words to that effect.

Smile Train
. One of the few charities I support, mostly because they don't spam (me - anecdata).

What would happen if aid organizations and other philanthropists embraced the dark arts of marketing spin and psychological persuasion used on Madison Avenue?

Yeah, I'm with ZMT. I think they already do plenty of marketing and psychological persuasion.

They simply don't have the same cash/resources to market as well as Coca-Cola and Hummer, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:59 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a college professor friend of mine who is a real salt-of-the-earth type, just absolutely wonderful and concerned and gives to charity and whatnot.

She has become so frustrated with all the money pleas she is sent now, some from groups she never donated to in the first place (implying pretty strongly that some list trading, or even selling, has gone on), that I think she has pretty much given up of donating to any of those groups.

I know that if I received a piece of mail with a baby with a cleft lip on the front, I would almost feel like I had been goatse'd via the postal service.
posted by JHarris at 3:21 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Related to the "Dark Arts" of Advertising, 20 out of the 30 Freakiest Commercials of 2009 at "AdFreak" are for either charitable organizations or governmental entities. Probably because McDonalds doesn't (usually) make a goal of its spots to scare the schmidt out of its customers.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:25 PM on December 28, 2009


Related to the "Dark Arts" of Advertising, 20 out of the 30 Freakiest Commercials of 2009 at "AdFreak" are for either charitable organizations or governmental entities.
Can someone please explain to me what the following means, or is referencing? It was said in that list about this commercial:
Actress Tamara Hope creeped out plenty of viewers with her ghostly turn in this Palm campaign. Luckily, she's trapped on a rock and worshipped by a dancing orange cult, and can't come hunting for you.
posted by Flunkie at 4:25 PM on December 28, 2009


dark arts of marketing spin and psychological persuasion

What, like astroturfing and misrepresentation of competing non-profits? Givewell was way ahead of you, Kristof.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:30 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel kind of underwhelmed by this piece.
Many of you readers travel to developing countries, and you’re the ideal marketers for humanitarian causes. But if you’re trekking in the Himalayas, come back not with stories of impoverished villages but rather ones about a particular 12-year-old girl who, if she received just $10 a month, could stay in school. Come back with photos of her–or, better, video that you put on a blog or Web site. Make people feel lucky that they have the opportunity to assist her, so that they’ll find helping her every bit as refreshing as, say, drinking a Pepsi.
Really? That's what you should do? Plaster the face and name of some impoverished child on your blog for everyone to look at? That's not refreshing, it's uncomfortable. And child sponsorship programs have been around for how long now?

Also, I don't mean this in a particularly hostile way, but isn't Nicholas Kristof a journalist? Has he ever been responsible for actually doing something about poverty and so forth? Wouldn't it better to ask an actual aid professional what one can do to really assist the needy?
posted by lullaby at 4:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


One perspective that isn't often addressed in the attempts to make charity giving personal is the side of those receiving the charity.

I visited a small town in Haiti a couple of years ago with a group from my former church, to lay the groundwork of a partnership between our church and their town parish, and we had many conversations with the priest there. Funding the school and lunches for children was a huge priority, but while we were gung-ho about the personal "adopt-a-child and get letters twice a year" approach, the priest was pretty strongly against it. His reasoning was that, even if the money people donated to "their child" actually went to a general fund for the entire school/lunches, the programs necessary to keep the donors engaged in the child's life (receiving letters, pictures, etc.) would set up artificial and unfair divisions among the children and their families. They're kids, they're going to talk to their friends about the picture the teacher had them draw after school for their family in America. Kids will begin wondering why they haven't been "chosen," and as happens across the board, the less desirable children (older, or with disabilities) will often be left behind.

It's important to remember that, while the donors respond well to individual pleas, these people are still part of a community, one that is often close-knit and sensitive about receiving (or not receiving) handouts and the distribution of aid. Balancing those two realities takes very careful work, and it is not just a matter of slick marketing.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 6:35 PM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


From the article:

"So I turned to the field of social psychology, trying to understand how I could craft my writing so that it would generate a response rather than a turned page."

Fail. From the first sentence I found this guy pompous and unpersuasive - from his desire to bear witness, all the way through his traipsing through Africa and beyond. Don't we realize that women are being raped and children dying of pneumonia while we sit here on our lazy butts worrying about hawks?!? Or in my case, other important injustices in the world deserving of aid. As I've beaten into the ground, my charity donations go to the treatment and prevention of childhood cancer (particularly rare brain cancers). I hope this guy and his sanctimonious attitude never comes near my causes.
posted by bunnycup at 6:35 PM on December 28, 2009


media and psychologically savvy those NGOs are.
posted by infini at 8:06 PM on December 28, 2009


The purpose of an NGO is not to help people who are living in the parts of the world Kristof describes.

The purpose of an NGO is to continue to exist and pay a big salary to the people leading the NGO.

Yes, there are small NGO's that don't fit this bill and actually do good work (and I support a few of them in different ways), but the actions of the bigger charities have made me too cynical to ever donate to them again.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:13 AM on December 29, 2009


I've always wondered what would happen if someone figured out a way to link up charitable donations with the compulsive behavior you see in some social game players. Like one of those godawful scammy Zynga games on Facebook where they're constantly suggesting that you spend money on worthless shit like ring tones in exchange for goods within the game economy. And people really do spend money, because they get so into the game.

You could have a Farmville/Farm Town knockoff, but instead the money you spend to buy virtual sheep and goats actually goes towards buying real sheep and goats, or whatever. Like, as you play with your farm, any cash you spend goes to helping out actual farmers in the Third World. You can play the game for free, but if you spend money to get a virtual leg-up, you're giving someone in the real world an actual leg-up as well.
posted by Ritchie at 4:59 AM on December 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


FWIW, I signed up for Children International to sponsor one child and yeah, I probably wouldn't have signed up to donate $20 to "children." It does indeed help, psychologically speaking, to feel like there's some kind of connection and you're doing something tangible rather than just throwing money at a problem that seems like it's too big to actually be solved.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:57 AM on December 29, 2009


I helped start and run a small ngo that works with abused kids, and we've elected not to do individual child sponsorships even though they are really, really effective, because of the huge privacy and dignity issues.

The Haiti pastor is right - in my experience with child sponsorships at other places, the younger girls get picked first, and teenage boys last. We struggled for over a year to get funding for a program for teenage boys, because people would rather fund admin costs even. Because we work specifically with either very vulnerable kids who are accessible, we would be setting up a nicely prepped list for predators, and introducing into an already competitive, jealous and unfair social system another way to 'compete'.

We have occasionally allowed some sponsorships from people who volunteered with us and connected with a kid, but it's not and will never be official because it has just too much of a downside.

When we were just starting out, I met a young woman who had been sent through school and university by an NGO, and was now working as a guide for them. She had a terrible background, and every day for her job had to do a show and tell about it to visitors to encourage them to donate. We had coffee afterwards, and I asked her if it was difficult, and she said very simply yes, painful and shaming, but she felt she owed the NGO for all their aid.

The other factor is the admin overhead. Someone has to make sure the mail gets written, collected, translated, sent and so on, and in a timely fashion to keep the donor's interest.

We can't use individual child photographs linked to stories, so instead we do anonymized stories with group photos. It's not as effective, but it's the best we can do. It's always a balancing act - what would bring in funds, what we can afford the time in cost and energy to do, and what would/might hurt our clients.

This reminds me of the 5-Cute-Endangered-Critters thing in wildlife charities - the panda, the tiger, the bear and I think gorillas and whales. No-one really gives a damn about a rare skink vital to an ecosystem, but they'll pay up for a sad-looking panda.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:22 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good grief. Unless their is a systemic change to the very fabric of government and economics here no amount of NGO spin over there is going to solve anything in the long-term.

Charities and foundations, no matter how well connected and how honest and efficient, are stop-gap measures. They can never be anything else.

Step #1 is realizing that we are all part of the same global economy that creates the conditions that lead to famine, death and long-term economic unfairness. I understand we often want to help in some way, but I'd rather that we spent some of this spin, money and worry on getting our governments and non-elected entities like the World Bank to effect real change. Until IMF policy does more than ensure Canadian wheat commodities are kept nice and profitable, developing world startups are locked in to US tech and the fetish for immovable workforces and unfettered capital flows back up the supply chain, saving millions (though noble) just delays the inevitable for millions more.

Special Economic Zones and Chinese containers ships full of crap are the problem, not the solution, and pumping more tax and private dollars into programs that prop up neo-liberal post-colonial machinery have no trouble at all harming billions, regardless of the intent of those who want to save a few million more in the short term.

Sorry for the rant, but I am sick to death of suggestions that personal change and local attitudes will do anything to correct the lop-sided world we have created.

(BTW, if you want to help the developing the world, give your money to the PARENTS of those children we are so worried about. The whole "please won't you help the innocent children" thing these charities harp on is so squicky and so misinformed it makes my skin crawl. I can't help but feel that charities likes this end up following the Illitch rule: systems like charitable organizations end up serving their own ends primarily, rather than the ends of the people they are intended to help.)
posted by clvrmnky at 7:23 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm really wary of glossy advertising. I'm also the kind of person who, having worked at a nonprofit, is really super careful in evaluating charities I consider donating my money to. I don't like to be pushed.
posted by anniecat at 9:20 AM on December 29, 2009


I just spent Christmas hanging out with a bunch of Honduran street orphans. I don't have much to add to this discussion except to say that if they could pack potential donors into cargo planes and fly them to places like that to play ball with kids that have never had a ball before then they could more than make up for the cost of the flights in a single afternoon.

Oh, and also, you'd think that kids that have never seen legos before would need to take time figuring out how they worked, but in reality they had the toys built faster than I could get them out of the packaging.

I'm also the kind of person who, having worked at a nonprofit, is really super careful in evaluating charities I consider donating my money to. I don't like to be pushed.

I hear there is this really great organization that can help with that.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:47 AM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Pollomacho, because actually evaluating a nonprofit based on how they choose to spend donor money is really insulting and a slap in the face (how dare you question the sad faces on the annual report), and not, like, an informed way to donate most people's hard earned dollars.
posted by anniecat at 2:29 PM on December 29, 2009


I've always wondered what would happen if someone figured out a way to link up charitable donations with the compulsive behavior you see in some social game players.

Well, I find Free Rice, and particularly Free Poverty quite addictive!
posted by smoke at 2:46 PM on December 29, 2009


I don't even know the name of the charity.

EPIC FAIL

Seriously, this is a fail. I recall an interview with Gene Simmons from KISS, and his biggest tip for up-and-coming bands was for them to SAY THE NAME OF THEIR BAND as many times as they could. Being interviewed? Say the name of your band. T-shirt? Make sure the name of the band is the biggest thing on it. Poster? Make the name of the band bigger.

It seems to work.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:00 PM on December 29, 2009


That was interesting. But when did Outside Magazine became nonprofit fundraisers' go-to source? ;)
posted by slidell at 10:10 PM on December 29, 2009


Yeah, Pollomacho, because actually evaluating a nonprofit based on how they choose to spend donor money is really insulting and a slap in the face (how dare you question the sad faces on the annual report), and not, like, an informed way to donate most people's hard earned dollars.

I don't know why you'd think I disagree with you? I was just attempting to make a lousy joke at the expense of the GiveWell morons.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:45 AM on December 30, 2009


I recall an interview with Gene Simmons from KISS...

KISS really does set a high standard for marketing and name recognition. I wonder if any university marketing programs have a class or section of a class set aside to explore them.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:56 AM on December 30, 2009


Charities really need a weird old man who pretends to be a transvestite dominatrix to tell rich people how to donate their money. Bonus points if the weird old man makes constant references to "Augustan satire" because that is more words than "Swift."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:36 PM on December 30, 2009


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