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A national fast food chain which shall remain nameless in this blog is promoting a fundraising event that shapesleaves me disappointed. I maintain that all giving is good but that some ways of giving are better. In this scenario, the franchise restaurant is asking the public to donate either $1.00 or $5.00 for a worthy cause. The donor is then provided with a paper cut out and encouraged to write their name on it so it can be displayed in the restaurant. The larger donation gets a more prominent placement on the display.

This will no doubt generate money for the non-profit. It’s easy to add a dollar when you visit a fast food restaurant. I have personally seen similar campaigns. So, yes this is helping. The host of this fundraising event has probably done a bit of advertising, purchased the construction paper for the cut outs, had a small amount of labor to prepare the cut outs and will have some record keeping as they collect and submit the donations. Is this the full extend to their contribution? If so, then I would consider this a terrific marketing tool. This will bring in some customers and generate good will towards the franchise.

Speaking only for myself, I would be more impressed if they matched funds. This reminds me of the special stamps the United States Post Office created to raise money for breast cancer. The price of the stamps was raised and that money went to charity. Many people felt good about buying these stamps but I was not one of them. It did not feel right to me.

Successful fundraising absolutely must include marketing. I get that and support it. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another. Still, in my opinion, some styles are superficial and have only short term effects so there are better ways. Paper cut outs that have little or no meaningful connection will probably not be remembered. The donor will likely forget the significance as quickly as they adds a dollar to their lunch bill.

There is definitely room for symbolism. We probably all instantly think of breast cancer when we see a pink ribbon and many associate a puzzle piece with Autism Speaks. Consider the Saint Baldrick’s annual head shaving each March. Men and some women shave their heads to show solidarity for cancer patients who lose their hair. These are not random symbols, they are emotionally connected with the non-profits they benefit.

So what is the bottom line? Give when and where it feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions whether aloud or internally. This does not make you a cynic, it makes you an educated donor.

All the Best,

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