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Thursday, November 19, 2009

World’s First Direct Mail Fund Raiser

World’s First Direct Mail Fund Raiser

I’ve 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 job?

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.

The 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.

Paul’s 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.

As a 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.

Paul 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.

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