World’s First Direct Mail Fund Raiser
made my living in the direct mail fund raising business for more than
35 years. I’m passionate about my clients and their missions. While
creating goods and services is important, I believe what my clients do
is even more important. Their efforts don’t improve your standard of
living, make your life more comfortable, or make your life easier. No,
what my clients do is, I believe, even more important—they improve the
fabric of our society and encourage good character by supporting
American servicemen and women, by rescuing animals in need, by electing
good candidates to public office, by creating world-class museums to
pass along our legacy of freedom, and much, much more. Nonprofit
organizations like the ones I serve add Technicolor™ to our lives. They
do good and I get to help them do good. How could anyone have a better
Most of you probably think that direct
mail fund raising is a rather recent phenomenon. You probably think
that it was invented in the 20th century here in the United States.
Well, if that’s what you think it’s understandable, but you’re off by
nearly 2,000 years. At least that’s what we know from recorded
history—from the land of Israel.
earliest recorded direct mail fund raiser was none other than Paul of
Tarsus—Saint Paul, as recorded in 2nd Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. Of
course, his appeal for funds was included with a much longer message of
the Gospel, but even by today’s standards, Paul wrote a long,
impassioned appeal to the members of the church at Corinth to contribute
to the Christians in Jerusalem who were in need.
letter followed the form of fund raising letters written today. He
addressed them personally by calling them “brothers.” He started his
letter with an emotional story of the Macedonian Christians who were
dirt poor, but begged Paul to let them participate in the collection to
help the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul bonded with the Christians in
Corinth by reminding them that they suggested a collection be taken up
in the first place. He praised them for their excellence in every
area—faith, speech, knowledge, and love. He even mentioned that it was
the enthusiasm of the Corinthian Christians that stirred the Macedonian
Christians to action in the first place.
friend, Paul reminded them that they made the first gift. He even
suggested an amount—something that did not leave them poor, but a
generous amount that they could give with joy in their heart.
was straightforward, he said complete your contribution now! He also
gave them this advice, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians
9:6) And finally, Paul promised them that their generosity would
encourage others to praise God.
What a powerful
fund raising letter! What a great example. Enough of that “junk mail”
stuff, OK? It is opportunity mail—an opportunity to make this a better
place to live.