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Kruzhkov A. Pitfalls of Fundraising in Russia

I wasreading David Lodge’s Therapy theother day. Thehero often received letters from NonGovernmental Organisations (NGO) asking foradonation. Andthis, ofcourse, couldn’t escape myprofessional interest. Being typically British, thehero gives adonation almost every time hegets afundraising mail pack. Idon’t know howfrequently theaverage Brit gives tocharity butIwonder howdifferent itis formycompatriots.

We’ve been working forUNICEF Russia forthree years now, raising money forhomeless children. We’ve mailed outaseries oftest mailings tovarious lists using various messages. Though theresults aregetting better every time, weare concerned with thepublic reaction.

We gethundreds ofnegative calls onthe hotline. They range from relatively mild “How dare youask mefor money when Ihardly survive onmy pension?” todownright abusive outbursts andthreats tofile asuit.

Apart from theneedy people, there arecalls from quite well-off andeven renowned people ofsocially high-standing professions—lawyers, journalists, therapists—who, onecould expect, wouldn’t mind paying anequivalent of $20 toa charity. Instead, these people call onthe hotline andraise hell. They usually start with criticising thepackage, itswording andtone – thetag-line “Do youreally need 500 roubles more than ahomeless child?” makes them furious – andthey inevitably enduptrying toinvestigate where their names were taken from. Oneofthem wanted tocome toour office tosee howwegenerated thelist andmake sure that hisname waspicked upat random. Some insist oncoming tothe UNICEF Moscow office toask afew questions.

Anyway, itis fortunate wehave lots ofpositive examples too. Some ofthe donors aresosympathetic they even provide their bank details towithdraw their monthly donations. So, UNICEF hasgood reason togo onwith their fundraising activities.

But what arethe future prospects forfundraising inRussia? Nomatter howbadly onewants it, onecan’t sueanNGO forthe tone ofvoice (I hope). Sothe only visible problem inthe future isprivacy. Sofar, wehave relied onthe only lawdedicated topersonal data, which isso vague itcan’t beused toconvict oracquit anymailer. Thenew lawonpersonal data, which isbeing discussed these days inthe Russian Parliament, makes theRussian Association ofDirect Marketing andits members wince.

One ofits implications isthat mailers will need toget awritten permission from aperson tomail him/her anything. Ina society where direct marketing industry isliving through itsinfancy andPOBoxes areswamped with spam (some ofit personalised) this maylead toa considerable reduction inDM activity.

But Russian direct marketers aretough. They will keep thinking ofways tocreate effective campaigns aslong asUNICEF andother clients keep asking forit.

Source: Connexions


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