My nonprofit spam manifesto
My standards for bulk email sent by nonprofit organizations are fairly simple:
However, it’s not spam if:
- You’re sending me a one-time-only message that is relevant to something that I posted publicly.
- You’re emailing me to invite me to join your subscription list.
- I went to your web site and subscribed to your e-bulletin.
- We had a conversation about your organization, and I said, “Do you have an e-bulletin? I’d like to subscribe.”
- I’m a dues-paying member of your organization, and voluntarily gave you my contact information.
- You’re my client.
That’s about it. No other exceptions that I’d care to stipulate.
I was going to make one more exception: “we are so close that you can predict with 100% accuracy what is going to interest and what is going to annoy me.” The problem with that one is that people I’m really close to tend to be extremely respectful in the way they treat others, and therefore they are slow to make assumptions that it’s ok to inflict unsolicited email subscriptions on their friends. Unfortunately, the world is full of others who are not very respectful and are also quick to make assumptions that any contact at all implies a close relationship and tacit permission to give me a lifetime subscription to their bulk email. Alas.
I would encourage every nonprofit that sends out an e-bulletin to think about it as (at least in part) a relationship-building tool. Your goal should not just be to inform us, to ask us for money, or to prod us to action. It should also be to help us feel connected and emotionally invested in your organization. Perhaps you should be asking yourself whether you want us to perceive you as intrusive and presumptuous, or as friendly and respectful to stakeholders? If you prefer to be seen as friendly and respectful, then please stop sending us unsolicited bulk email.