The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Promiscuous e-mail dispersal.

with 2 comments

What the heck?!  Seth Godin’s blog last week revealed an interesting though unscientific test of “Contact Us” information on websites.  Godin is one of my marketing gurus and truly the father of permission marketing, an idea he championed long before the internet made permission a fact of life.  His post read “I just went through the hassle of trying to get some B2B firms the details needed to give me an informed quote on a project.  I visited eight sites. Six of them hide their email address. They use forms of one sort of another. One firm refused to accept more than 500 characters in the “how can we help you” box, while three of them wanted to know what state I was in, etc.  Email contact is like a first date. If you show up with a clipboard and a questionnaire, it’s not going to go well, I’m afraid. The object is to earn permission to respond.

If you sell something, set up an address like “”   Put this on your home page, “contact us if you’re looking for more information or a price quote.” Sure, you’ll get a lot of spam, but deleting spam is a lot easier than finding customers. (Hint, ask your IT people to make it a mailto link, with a subject line built in. That way, you can use the subject line to find the good email).”

Brilliant as usual.  But it made me wonder whether nonprofits do any better job of making the Contact Us information on their websites accessible.  So, I did my own random, unscientific study. I went to 10 websites.  They were just the first ten that popped into my mind but the list included two institutions of higher ed and one hospital along with some traditional charities.  Most (8 of 10) buried Contact Us at the bottom of the home page in mice type–they didn’t even elevate it to the top navigation.  And, as Godin found, even when you got to the Contact Us page, it was typically a form you could complete, rather than an e-mail address or phone number.  And this was true even if you navigated over to the planned giving section of the site.

With increasing investments in planned giving website content and a growing utilization on the part of donors of web content as additive to information they might receive through the mail, why would we make it so difficult for donors to contact us, especiall donors who have gone to the trouble to visit our website?   Check out your own website.  You might be surprised at what you find.



Written by Phyllis Freedman

October 13, 2009 at 11:50 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thank you for highlighting this issue. It is time for nonprofits to apply the same rigor and discipline to the construct of “ask” landing pages, contact us, home pages, etc… as they do their mail marketing pieces that compel to action.

    Susan Harford

    October 14, 2009 at 10:57 am

  2. Just noticed your web blog on twitter today and I must say I really like it! Bookmarked this and will be back to check it out more later.

    Gale F.

    March 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

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