Raising money by pissing people off: The Hanuka Grinch’s first holiday post

Posted on 29 Nov 2016 at 1:01pm

black-fridayDear Non-Profit organizations:

I’m on a lot of your mailing lists. I read your emails. I use the information you send me. And I understand you must solicit funds.

If I recently unsubscribed from your mail list, it’s because I receive more solicitations from you than actual information. So why am I writing this today? Because the barrage of solicitations came to a head today. It’s Giving Tuesday.

I’m not mentioning that to promote it. I hope Giving Tuesday dies along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and make no mistake, those are already dying.

The name Black Friday is an old retail term that dates back to the 1970s. I first heard it when I was working on Fifth Avenue in New York (at the job that got me transferred to NorthPark in Dallas). Black Friday referred to a black cloud that descended on the store the day after Thanksgiving. Our regular customers disappeared for a month and the most horribly rude customers appeared that tore the store apart. A job that was a joy the rest of the year became a nightmare for the next few weeks.

I’m not sure when the term “Black Friday” went from being something we weren’t supposed to say out loud because we weren’t trying to offend our customers to a term that these vultures wore as a badge of pride. Sometime in the 1980s, I guess, after I was out of retail.

Then there’s Cyber Monday. Why Monday? Because in the early 1990s, most people didn’t have computers at home. So instead of working, people sat at their computers in the office the Monday after Thanksgiving searching for bargains and shopping online.

And why will both die?

Because as online shopping increases, the need to camp out outside stores waiting for them to open (was that ever really a need?) has decreased. And since many people got home computers and virtually everyone has smart phones, there’s no need to wait until Monday.

And barraging me with email? That just takes up my time and all I can do about it is unsubscribe from your mail lists. And if anyone who stuffed my inbox with solicitations calls me next week and asks why I didn’t include their event in this week’s calendar, it’s because I missed your actual information because of the deluge of extraneous information and solicitations.

And a note about why my friends call me the Channukah Grinch. As far as I’m concerned, the holidays were in October. They were joyous, but they’re over. The upcoming week of Hanukah actually commemorates the creation of guerrilla warfare by the Maccabees, a lovely Jewish family who lived in a town now best known for the Elvis Inn and shrine (my favorite attraction in Israel), which also holds the Guinness record for preparing the biggest plate of hummus. And to Jews reading this: Historically Chanukah is absolutely not the gift-giving holiday. Purim is.

But I digress. I wrote this piece earlier today and put it aside, but now I’m getting Giving Tuesday Updates telling me how well you’re doing. I’m glad you are. I really do support all of you. But I’m trying to work here and you’re driving me crazy. And really, does fundraising really work when you’re pissing off the people you’re soliciting?

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